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Pre-K rule has almost expired

02/28/2008

To The Editor:

The Pre-K Rule 2600 comment period has almost expired. Act 62, which provided for public funding of Pre-K, has added an additional burden to the cost of education. I believe that Pre-K should be a part of educating our children. It's difficult for me to argue against early education in our current culture, where there is no one in the home to provide this early education since the cost of homeownership requires two incomes per family. However, this act is being used by the Warren School Board, and other boards, to direct attention from declining enrollment and high per pupil spending. In Warren, 32 percent of every dollar sent to Montpelier returns to our town to fund education. The other 68 percent is out of our control.

I would like Rule 2600 to provide that all school budgets separate the number of students and cost enrolled in Pre-K from the cost of students enrolled in K through six, who make up the actual per pupil count and the student-teacher ratio.

Warren has 121 equalized pupils projected for the '08-09 school year, but in the annual report the school board combines the total students, including Pre-K, totaling 154, to justify additional spending of nearly $100,000 including adding another teacher. This leads taxpayers to believe that the population of full-time students is rising, when it is declining. There is no guarantee that the three- and four-year-olds will eventually become K through six students in the same school, so it is deceiving to include them in the pupil count and teacher-pupil ratio.

Adding this provision to Rule 2600 will add some transparency to the spending and prevent this kind of subterfuge by school boards.

It is almost impossible to muster enough votes to defeat a school budget, since those who pay the bill are all working and unable to attend Town Meeting. Transparency in spending would help alert those who could attend be more prepared to comment at Town Meeting in the hope of swaying the vote.

 
James E. Parker
Warren

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