The Asbury Park Press had an editorial yesterday urging the State to pull the preschool mandate, calling it “a misguided mandate that’s far too extravagant for these troubled times.” This sentiment seems to be gaining traction as Corzine telegraphs uncertainty about the funding (about $11K per child) promised for this ambitious program. This leaves local districts in a quandary: be good little soldiers and move ahead with plans for full-day preschools or take the cynic’s path and wait on the DOE to announce its intentions.
Toms River Regional Schools is keeping the faith. According to an article in the Asbury Park Press, they are consulting with other districts about sharing services and facilities. On the other hand, the more cynical Bayonne Board of Education, reports the Jersey News, “plans to expand its preschool program next September – but only if it gets the cash to pay for it.”
(Business Administrator Cliff) Doll cautioned, “We hear rumblings that any new programs are questionable under state budget constraints,” adding, “If the money doesn’t come, we’re not going ahead with the program.”
Meanwhile, local districts are eyeball-deep in budgeting for the 2009-2010 school year and are faced with the choice of either faithfully spending time and money preparing for preschool classes or casting lots with the growing number of agnostics who doubt whether the State will actually hang tough. The irony (one of them, at least) is that just last week the State DOE issued the next 178 pages of the School District Efficiency and Accountability Act. Any chance we could get a little efficiency and accountability from the State?