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State may add 10 days back in pre-K year
Deal wants to add $20M to low-interest loan program
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Pre-kindergarten students may have 10 more days in the classroom starting this fall in a proposal announced Thursday by Gov. Nathan Deal.

The plan comes a year after the state cut 20 days from the calendar and added 5,000 spots to classrooms.

"Last year we had to make some very appropriate structural changes," Deal told The Associated Press. "This year we are being able to sustain some of those changes and actually improve on some of those changes."

Gainesville City Schools Superintendent Merrianne Dyer said the news was encouraging, given that last year, school systems had to decide whether to put their pre-K teachers on a reduced work schedule or a reduced salary.

The city schools chose to have their teachers work in kindergarten through fifth-grade classrooms on days their children weren't in school.

"If this happens, it will mean students will get to come more days and our pre-K staff would be with them more days," Dyer said.

Hall County Schools Superintendent Will Schofield also applauded the proposal, saying the fact it restores students to the classroom is a positive thing.

The increase will raise teachers' salaries by about 4 percent and will cut 2,000 pre-K spots, as many of those added in 2011 were not filled, AP reported.

Locally, however, there are lengthy waiting lists of parents hungry to put their children in a pre-K class.

Hall County's six dual-language immersion pre-K and its 15 other Georgia pre-K classes are full to the brim, and Dyer said Gainesville City has never had a problem filling its slots.

"What we've learned ... is pre-K as part of elementary schools are highly desired sites because it allows the student to go to school with their siblings and transportation's also provided. It is a boost to the student in getting ready for elementary school," she said.

Deal wants to keep the HOPE scholarship awards flat for next year and to put another $20 million in the state's low-interest loan program, which will run out of money at the end of January, AP reported.

The changes are part of Deal's budget proposal, which is set to be released to state lawmakers next week at the start of the legislative session.

Associated Press contributed to this report.

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