The Board of Education last night awarded a contract to a child care agency to run an expanded preschool program that will be funded by federal stimulus money this year. The cost, not to exceed $900,000, will come solely from public school money. The move follows some criticism about devoting private school funds for a universal preschool program.Originally, the district had planned to set aside $2 million of $5.4 million in stimulus money to fund the expansion. The remaining money then would have been split between private and public schools.
Now the cost will be paid by the public school share.
The agency, The Special Children’s Center, will start Nov. 1 at the latest on expanding the 200-student preschool by 120 students, officials said.
“I don’t think we did justice to this situation,” said board member Leonard Thomas, who contended that the board caved to pressure from private school advocates.
“We want to target children in literacy and math” before they get to kindergarten, Assistant Schools Superintendent William T. Anderson said.
A public awareness campaign is believed to have been responsible in preventing the Title 1 money from being diverted away from children who need it. The Board’s contract to the Special Children’s Center will be funded by the public school portion of Title 1, not the mosdos portion and there will be no renewels unless the State or Federal funding is still there.