This won't hurt a bit
As lawmakers slash this year's budget by millions, the Florida Voluntary Prekindergarten program looks likely to take a hefty hit of $6.7-million. That's funding for more than 2,500 four-year-olds. Ouch, right?
"That's not going to affect anything," says Dave McGerald, executive director of the Hillsborough Early Learning Coalition, which stands to lose about $418,000 for VPK. "Those were dollars that were going to go unused anyway."
The state doesn't know how many kids will sign up for the voter-created program each year. So lawmakers tend to put too much money in the pre-k budget, knowing any of the per-student allocation that doesn't get spent comes back to the general fund coffers anyway. That's the situation here.
"If we served 100 percent of all the 4-year-olds, then I'd be screaming," said Janet Chapman, executive director of the Pinellas Early Learning Coalition, which stands to lose about $300,000. "But we're not at that point yet. I probably send that much back each year that's not spent."
To see the proposed VPK spending cuts, click here and go to pages 6 and 7 of the report.