After weeks of public outcry and protests, Gov. Nathan Deal announced Monday his updated plan to keep pre-K hours the same while reducing the number of school days each year by 20.
“From day one we have worked tirelessly to make sure Georgia’s youngest scholars continue to benefit from the pre-K program,” Deal said. “It is so important that we keep Georgia pre-K a priority in order to ensure that students are school ready and on pace to read on grade level by third grade. I appreciate the cooperative, can-do spirit of the Georgia pre-K community. They have provided invaluable feedback over the last few weeks to help us improve our original proposal.”
The following programmatic adjustments will be made according to a news release from Deal’s office:
• The school year will be shortened from 180 to 160 days.
• Class size will be increased to 22 students from 20. Since all Georgia pre-K classes have a paraprofessional in the room, the student to teacher ratio will max out at 11:1.
• An additional 2,000 pre-K slots will be added, bringing Georgia pre-K enrollment to 86,000.
• Providers will receive 94 percent of the operating funds they currently receive.
• Pre-K teachers will receive 90 percent of their current salaries. (The original half-day proposal included a 30 percent reduction.)
According to the release, Georgia is in the lead when it comes to early-childhood education and is one of only four states in the nation to provide a universal pre-K program. The new proposal is expected to save an estimated $54 million and “was developed after listening to the concerns of the pre-K providers, pre-K teachers, parents, early childhood advocacy organizations and local school systems across the state,” the release said.