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Board of education faces tough decisions with shrinking budget

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By Staff Brunswick Beacon

Brunswick County Schools officials have some tough decisions ahead of them.

In light of troubled economy, the district is anticipating budget cuts for the upcoming fiscal year.

Recently, as a solution to save the district money, a proposal was presented that would remove pre-K services from the school district. It’s an effort that, if adopted, would mean some $450,000 in Title I funding could go to elementary and high schools throughout Brunswick County—each county elementary and high school could receive an additional $35,000.

If the program is cut, families of about 140 upcoming pre-K students will be left wondering what they’re going to do with their children. Many of these students are from low-income families and it’s concerning to think their options may be limited if the board of education were to do away with the pre-K program.

But, we understand doing so could mean funding could be distributed throughout the district that would, essentially, benefit a greater number of the community’s children.

The idea presented at a recent committee meeting was to shift the program from the district to private service providers in Brunswick County. Doing so wouldn’t just free up that Title I funding, it would create jobs and other opportunities in the private sector in Brunswick County, school officials have said.

Registration for the pre-K program moved ahead this week, even though a decision about the program’s future has yet to be made. The board of education will be looking at the suggestion at its upcoming April 6 board meeting.

The board has difficult decisions to make. How can it best meet the needs of the district as a whole while making sure no students, especially those who are coming from lower socio-economic families, don’t lose access to needed services?

Will there be enough open spots for all of these students in the private sector?

How will these private service providers be able to provide transportation to their programs like the district does now?

Will parents seek out these alternatives or will some students be left at home until it’s time for them to begin kindergarten?

And once these students get to kindergarten, will they fall behind their classmates because of missed opportunities through pre-K?

Faye Nelson, director of instructional and accountability services, said school officials are trying to find a “win-win in a hard situation.”

Unfortunately, because the district is going to face a challenging fiscal year, it’s likely going to be difficult to find many “win-win” situations in this economy.

We can only wait to see what other proposals come to the table and hope all decisions best meet the needs of Brunswick County’s children.