Feb 24, 2011 7:39 PM by Carolyn Cerda
A money pool for the Lafayette Parish School Board has dried up. In the past two years, $16 million in federal stimulus money has helped fund several school programs, but that ends this June.
That means, unless another source of money, like grants, is found, those programs may have to be cut. Pre-kindergarten education could be the first to go. It's operations have been run predominately with stimulus money. But, Pre-K educators believe it's worth the time, effort and money.
"Early intervention is key... I really believe that," said Millie Jarrell, a Pre-K3 teacher at Truman Montessori in Lafayette. "I think it adds a lot of structure for them, but at the same time we're teaching them how to be independent."
Jarrell has been teaching for 20 years. She says pre-kindergarten education programs are proving to be both effective and necessary.
"The numbers don't lie," said Jarrell. "The numbers are wonderful. The kids are doing well. They're passing the LEAP, they're doing beautifully."
"Lafayette Parish's national percentage rank, far outranks the rest of the state," said Christine Duay, Supervisor of Early Education with LPSB.
In the coming months, the school board will review the programs once funded by stimulus money, and decide how the budget can provide for them or if they must be cut. Several board meetings will be held, where Pre-K officials will have the opportunity to prove why they should stay.
"It's a successful program and I guess when you have to justify things and ask for things, it's always a lot easier when your program is successful," said Duay.
"I really do think that this has been a wonderful program that gives them a jump start in life that they need," said Jarrell.
The board should vote on the final budget in June.