As part of Gov. Nathan Deal’s changes to the Georgia Pre-Kindergarten Program, Bulloch County was mandated this week to close three Pre-K classrooms, two within Bulloch schools and one of two at Creative Kids, a private daycare center in Brooklet.
Two of four existing classes at Stilson and Portal Elementary Schools will be closed, but with the state’s addition of two extra slots to each remaining class, the reduction will result in a net loss of six slots in the public school system for the 2011-2012 school year that begins Aug. 1.
“The state asked us to make our decision based primarily on the number of children on the classes’ current and past years’ waiting lists and the number of students served,” said Dr. Marilyn Dryden, director of Early Care and Student Services for Bulloch schools.
Dryden also plans to request to move two remaining Pre-K classrooms at Nevils Elementary and Portal Middle/High to Brooklet and Sallie Zetterower Elementary Schools in order to consolidate and place the 16 remaining classes where student waiting list numbers are greatest.
“This gives us five Pre-K classes with 110 slots to serve the needs of Nevils, Stilson and Brooklet families,” Dryden said.
That total does not include Creative Kids’ 22-slot, Pre-K class in Brooklet.
Portal would go from three classes to one due to a reduced demand for slots.
“Each year the state closes approximately 100 Pre-K classes as a result of cyclical population trends for children this age that affect demand,” Dryden said. “Portal did not have the numbers this year to support three classes, so to best use state funds, we are requesting to move a class to areas with greater demand, like SZES and BES. Our goal is to maximize our ability to serve children.”
School officials said the four affected teachers and paraprofessionals would fill openings within the school system.
For the 2010-11 school year, there were 18 Pre-K classes of 20 students and one with 18 for a total of 378 slots in Bulloch. With the state’s increase of two children per class and a reduction of two classes, there will be 16 classes of 22, and one class of 20 for a total of 372 slots for the 2011-2012 school year – six less than the current year.
The state’s mandate is part of Deal’s plan to retain Pre-K as a full, 160-day program.
Bulloch County’s three-classroom loss is part of a statewide reduction of 306 classes that is estimated will save the state more than $54 million.
Evans, Candler, Screven and Jenkins counties did not lose any private or public Pre-K classes, but Chatham, Effingham and Emanuel Counties lost a combined 11 classes.