School districts across the state are trying to figure out the ramifications of cuts in the state Parents as Teachers program.
Last week Missouri Governor Jay Nixon withheld $2 million from the original $31 million appropriation, his second series of cuts to balance the state budget due to declining revenues. In addition, Nixon sent his budget proposal for the 2010-11 fiscal year to the legislature, recommending spending of $26,786,000, a drop of 14 percent from the 2009 budget.
Linda Luebbering, budget director for the state, issued a statement that school districts should take advantage of the early alert that Parents and Teachers funding was being reduced. In the legislative update distributed by the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education on Friday, Luebbering is quoted as saying districts should decide to either discontinue the program or find alternative sources for funds.
"We don't know what that exactly means," said Monett R-1 Superintendent Dr. John Jungmann. "Is the reduction in funds enough to reduce services this year or can we absorb the decrease, run a little more efficiently and see if that gets us through the year?"
|The Monett School District has a $71,000 budget for Parents as Teachers. Of that, $60,000 is used for salaries. The Monett program serves 221 children.|
Jungmann said Parents as Teachers has been a target for budget cutters for some time, so word of reduced funding came as no surprise. It is not clear how much state money will be cut from Monett's allocation.
Parents as Teachers focuses on pre-kindergarten children with activities and screening. Parents are encouraged to engage children in various activities, including decision marking, that will help prepare them for school.
|"The bad thing about the way the program works," said Jungmann, "is that you do the work and seek reimbursement. A cut would be hard to calculate, like throwing a percentage out there. We won't know till May what we'll see.|
"Parents as Teachers is on the agenda for the next board meeting," Jungmann said. "Certainly if we can get by this year, when we start to put together the budget for next year, there will have to be changes."
Purdy School Superintendent Jerry Lingo expressed concern that the district would be asked to continue contacting the same number of families as specified by the state with reduced funding.
"The program is real important for our school," said Lingo. "I helps us get hold of younger kids at an early age and helps our pre-kindergarten and kindergarten
The Purdy district budgeted $25,705 for Parents as Teachers for the current fiscal year.
|"I'm surprised by the request," Lingo said. "Everything they write and every study you look at says the younger you get hold of children, the better off you are.||"We have to do everything we can to keep the program," Lingo said. "It will create a hardship for us. We'll have to take a long hard look at subsequently funding whatever we don't get from other areas. That would be our intent."|