After scrabbling among themselves, the City Council members allocated money by a 3-2 vote; those opposing the measure cited accountability. I can live with that. What I cannot live with is how the council has somehow decided to fund pre-K with a portion of that money.
Who decided it would be a good idea to fund the program, and what were the basic criteria for deciding where the units would go? This was not on the wish list presented to the council by the school system. Of the three units of pre-K that received salary funding for a teacher, not one will be allocated to Randolph Park.
What makes this decision questionable is that Randolph Park, as measured by free and reduced lunches, ranks as the highest of any school in Anniston system. Secondly, $180,000 barely covers a first-year teacher with a bachelor’s degree. A first-year, no-experience salary is $36,867, but this does not include benefits. When you add insurance, retirement, social security, etc., you add another $15,791. There is no money left in this amount for aides or supplies. When you add your aides’ salaries, plus benefits, that could easily be an additional $100,000.
That’s the price of educating children, and I am fine with it. However, this funding will not be additional to the budgeted $500,000; instead, it will be deducted from it. How will these programs be sustained the following year? Are the pre-K programs currently in the system self-sustaining? Can the system afford to keep the programs once they are started? Do we know that the communities where the schools will be have the numbers to justify having a pre-K?
I do not feel ample time and effort have been put into this idea. I do not believe the council should tell the Board of Education how to best use resources. I sincerely appreciate the intent of the council, but I respectively ask that it work with the superintendent and the board relative to spending money for education. Doing this will give you accountability.
Mary L. Harrington
Editor's note: The writer, Mary L. Harrington, was misidentified in the original version of this letter. It was corrected Nov. 11, 2013.