OC seeks funding for new state-funded pre-K classrooms
Obion County is among the Tennessee school districts that have requested a total of 306 new state-funded pre-K classes for the 2008-09 school year to serve 4-year-olds in at-risk and universal classrooms, according to a Tennessee Department of Education survey.
School administrators in each of Tennessee’s school systems submitted requests for the number of new pre-K classrooms they would like to open next year. These requests would finally bring pre-K to every county in the state.
The pre-K needs survey lists the Obion County School System’s number of new state-funded pre-K classes anticipated for 2008-09 at five classes.
Obion County Director of Schools David Huss explained that the funding of five classes would provide one more for each of the county’s five elementary schools.
“That’s just our request,” he said, adding that there is no guarantee the request will be funded this year.
Huss said the request for five classes is for operations in the classrooms, not for the actual construction of classrooms.
The county school system is in the process of trying to build 12 additional classrooms, which Huss said is the actual “physical brick and mortar” aspect of that particular project. The state funding being provided through Gov. Phil Bredesen’s pre-K initiative would be for the operation of classrooms, specifically for teachers, educational assistants and materials.
“This survey demonstrates the demand and desire for more families to have access to high quality pre-K education,” the Tennessee governor said. “Quality pre-K classrooms are one of the best investments we can make in the education of children in Tennessee and every family deserves access to educational opportunities like pre-K that prepare their children to succeed in school.”
Both Sumner County and Washington County schools intend to request state pre-K funding for the first time. With these requests, Tennessee’s Voluntary Pre-K for All program will have classrooms in all but one of Tennessee’s 136 school systems.
School districts further reported 2,093 students still on pre-K waiting lists this year. This is a growth of over 500 students on the waiting list from the same time last year.
“As more families benefit from these excellent programs, we see a growing need in schools across the state to provide this valuable instruction to young children,” Tennessee Acting Education Commissioner Tim Webb said. “This survey shows that the people of Tennessee support and believe in the need for pre-K.”
Under Bredesen’s administration, the state has created 934 pre-K classrooms serving 17,308 children. Tennessee’s Pre-K for All program is ranked high nationally in quality by the National Institute for Early Education Research and is held as a model state by the national advocacy organization pre-K Now.
Published in The Messenger 3.13.08
funding for Pre-K classrooms, Obion County