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Program Possibly Cut at CPS

The possibility of budget cuts in Columbia Public Schools due to the federal sequester might become a reality. District leaders say a program for low income families may be hit the hardest. The Title I Early Childhood program could be in its last year. The program’s director says she hopes the cuts don’t happen because “real people are attached” to these cuts. Nearly 700 four-to-five year olds are enrolled in Pre-K under Title I in nearly 25 classes in Columbia. In these classrooms, children get the chance to play and learn with other students for the first time. If the budget passes and funds are cut, these students lose the chance to get ahead in school. Program director Mary Rook says kids in Pre-K perform on the same level as kindergarteners. If the sequester passes, teacher’s job could be in limbo.”If the sequester does happen, we’ll lose that money, were talking losing eight-to-ten personnel, teachers that probably will have to be reduced,” Dr. Belcher says. A concerned student’s grandparents shared her thoughts on the possible budget cuts. “It prepares them for the transition from home to kindergarten and I think that’s an area that is much needed,” Deann Gentry says. School officials say there is no way to make up the money, but believe CPS is in a good position moving forward. The district has a system of balance and reserve for issues that happen on short notice like this one. Dr. Belcher says if Title I does lose it’s funding, CPS will have to decide to try to fund the program locally or slow down the progress of the program. If you want to voice your opinion about the possible cut, school leaders encourage everyone to contact their representative about the importance and impact the program has.

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