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Gainesville pre-K educators may not see salary cuts
School board will vote Monday on proposal
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Gainesville City Schools

What: School board work session where changes to
pre-kindergarten program will be discussed and voted on
When: 5 p.m. Monday
Where: 508 Oak St. NW, Gainesville

The Gainesville City Schools board will vote Monday on a plan aimed at preserving the system's pre-kindergarten teacher salaries.

Earlier this month, Gov. Nathan Deal unveiled budget cuts to the state's pre-K program, which included cutting the school year by 20 days. The changes are part of efforts to keep the lottery-funded HOPE scholarship from going broke. Lottery funds also go toward pre-K programs.

The school year will go from 180 days to 160, meaning teachers will see a 10 percent cut in pay.

Gainesville City Schools Superintendent Merrianne Dyer said she wants those teachers in the elementary school during those 20 days, which will mean they'll still get paid.

"With this plan, we would get state funding for the segments of children the pre-K teachers serve for 20 days," Dyer said. "From the information we have now, we would be able to make up that lost income."

The pre-K teachers would co-teach kindergarten through fifth-grade early intervention, special education and English as a second language classes.

Dyer added that Gainesville's pre-K program is also funded with $75,000 the system earns by leasing one wing of Woods Mill Academy to the Alpine Georgia Network of Educational and Therapeutic Support Center.

"That has allowed us to keep pre-K and fully fund it so that it doesn't incur expenses," she said.

For the days pre-K isn't in session, Dyer said the system also would offer day care services for $115 a week. The district would provide transportation, breakfast and lunch service.

"That will help parents who are working or have other children in school," she said.

The state allowed systems to individually determine where to trim days. Gainesville would start the pre-K program on Aug. 15, a week later than last year, and cut three sessions from the school year: Oct. 3-7, March 12-16 and April 23-27.

Dyer said she expects that plan would be a good option for parents and teachers.

"It's a win for teachers and staff because they didn't lose their job and they'll be able to stay on a comparable salary scale," Dyer said. "It's also a win for K-5. For 20 days of the year, they'll have additional help in their classes for students that need the extra assistance."

Dyer added that the pre-K program will be able to serve more students next school year. Deal's plan added 2,000 slots statewide to help put a dent in the state's 10,000 student waiting list.

Class sizes will jump to 22 students from 20.

"Last year we had 180 students and now we'll have 198," Dyer said.

Gainesville's pre-K classes next school year will be held at Enota Multiple Intelligences Academy and New Holland Core Knowledge Academy.

There also will be a new location at Woods Mill Academy to take the place of Fair Street International Baccalaureate World School, which will be under construction.

The school board will discuss and vote on the proposal Monday at the school board office, located at 508 Oak St. NW. The work session begins at 5 p.m.

If approved, registration for the pre-K drawing will begin March 28, Dyer said.