LAFAYETTE — The Lafayette Parish School Board decided Wednesday to maintain its Pre-K3 program for its two lowest-performing elementary schools: Alice Boucher and J.W. Faulk.
Both schools are on the state’s academic watch list for scores that may not meet increased state accountability standards.
As the board mulled how to fill a $1.1 million deficit with the loss of federal Title 1 funding for both Pre-K4 and Pre-K3 classes, it considered eliminating Pre-K3 classes to prepare more 4-year-olds for kindergarten.
Board member Rae Trahan pushed for an expansion of Pre-K4 classes because at “Boucher and Faulk, there are 4-year-olds who are not being put at all into a Pre-K program.”
“They are on a waiting list,” she said.
Board member Greg Awbrey reminded members that they initially approved the Pre-K3 classes because teachers reported that Pre-K4 students were not ready for kindergarten. More time is needed to prepare them, he said.
Last year, two classes were at Alice Boucher for students zoned for Boucher, and two more classes were at Truman Montessori, which accepts students from throughout the district.
In the upcoming school year, two classes will remain at Boucher for zoned students, and the other two classes will be for Faulk-zoned students.
The location of the Faulk classes is still being worked out, Christine Duay, the district’s Early Childhood Program supervisor, said during the board’s Wednesday meeting.
Duay said if Faulk does not have room for the program, it may be possible to continue to house the classes at Truman, but reserve the spots for Faulk-zoned students.
One issue the board should consider is transportation because 3-year-olds are not allowed to ride the bus, she said.
Registration dates for the 3-year-old classes are still being worked out, Duay said.
At least $325,000 will come from the general fund to support five Pre-K4 classes housed at Schools of Choice programs at J.W. James, Boucher and Prairie elementary schools. The applications for those Schools of Choice programs will be available soon, officials said after Wednesday’s meeting.
The board approved directing $800,000 in Title I funding to the preschool classes previously paid for with federal stimulus grants.
The board voted 8-1 to approve the redirected funds within the special revenues budget, as well as its other non-general fund budgets.
The board voted 7-2 to approve its proposed capital improvement budget. Board members who voted against the measure were Trahan and Tommy Angelle. On Wednesday, the board reduced the capital improvement fund by more than $250,000 to shift money into its general fund.
The comprehensive budget will be available for public inspection from June 16 to June 29. A public hearing will be held at 4 p.m. June 29 and will be followed by a 4:30 p.m. meeting when the board will vote on the final budget.