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Programs Will Continue Despite Lack of State Budget

By Staff | Aug 18, 2009

Kindergarten and pre-school programs are at risk in some Pennsylvania school districts. Montgomery Area School District could fall victim to the budget axe if the state legislature follows through on funding restrictions. Pennsylvania law does not require school districts to offer pre-school and kindergarten classes.

“What worries me most is the pre-K grants full time program we have established here,” said Superintendent Daphne Ross. The school district received almost $400,000 each year for the past three years from the Pre-K counts grant to run it plus it opened up three job positions to teach early learning standards to four and five year olds.

According to Ross the early kindergarten program teaches four year olds writing activities, every day mathematics and has a strong literacy component.

“We can target early learning problems and work on them before the child gets to first grade. This is a considerable cost savings to the school district because we can provide the appropriate accommodations much sooner,” Ross said.

Fifty five students have participated in the program so far and are transported separately for a classroom day from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

If there is no budget by August 24, the school district agreed to go forward with the program. “We are taking a chance if funding doesn’t come through, but we have to move forward,” added Ross. And if grant funds are cut, the district will be forced to make decisions on its own effectiveness in order to continue the following year according to Ross. HeadStart also has an early intervention program for three year olds at Montgomery. “If these programs are cut, this will be a tremendous loss in our district,” she added. “It is unfortunate that we have to be in this situation. It will be hard to pull back programs that are already developed. State education is our future and we need to get a handle on state spending. I don’t think it should be cut at this point.”

Ross feels that not much more can be cut without making sacrifices. The stimulus education subsidy would be a big cut to Montgomery’s school budget at a loss of $98,000.Cuts have been made for the past three years in the administration’s budget. Some positions were not replaced after retirements. “The schools here are maximizing every resource. We work together. For example we use consortium spending through BLAST Intermediate Unit. Their provisions are successful with the students.” Ross concluded.

The School District did hire a new English teacher. Jessica Carpenter will teach eighth grade Language Arts. Other new changes this year will be a shift in administration responsibilities. Michael Prowant will be the middle school and high school’s principal and Linda Gutkowski is now director of curriculum,