Preschool: Some more worried than others

SAGINAW, Mich. - A preschool administrator in Saginaw County said the budget reduction his program faces is potentially "devastating," but one in Midland County said increased enrollment may make up for state-level cuts, according to a report in The Saginaw News.

The Saginaw Intermediate School District, which operates an early education program for about 1,200 students in 19 classrooms, faces an 8 to 10 percent budget cut, director Richard Van Tol told The News. He said the district might have to reduce programming, but also said that would depend on the outcome of teacher contract negotiations, The News reported.

In neighboring Midland County, the executive director of the preschool program at the North Midland Family Center told The News they are working to fill enough unused preschool slots to cover the anticipated reduction of $122,400 in state funding.

Linda R. Clark told The News she is confident the program, now at 36 students, will continue.

The state budget proposes a 50 percent cut in the Great Start Readiness Competitive grant program, according to The News.

Jessica Gillard, an early education specialist at the non-profit Early Childhood Investment Corp. in Lansing, told The News that cutting preschool now will cost the state later through increased special education, remediation or lower academic performance.

But state Rep. Kenneth B. Horn, R-Frankenmuth, told The News that while preschool proponents make a good case, the state also needs to balance its budget.

The Saginaw News, "Saginaw ISD faces major cuts to pre-school with state funding reductions," Oct. 27, 2009

Michigan Education Report, "Don't expect long-term gain from early education money," Aug. 15, 2007