Somers Point reacts to preschool budget cuts -

Somers Point reacts to preschool budget cuts

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Preschools around the country and here in South Jersey are adjusting to a nation-wide reduction in government funding for public preschool programs.

In Somers Point, the school district and parents hope budget cuts will not affect their children's opportunity to receive a pre-kindergarten education.

"It's just sad," said Grandmother of a New York Avenue student Nancy Read.

Parents and grandparents picking up students at New York Avenue School Tuesday were fearful what a reduction in government funding could mean for preschool education.

"The preschool is an experience for kids. It's an early shot at education and its very disappointing if they're losing funding," said Read.

The recession and sequester has taken its toll nationally on preschool budgets.

With a budget of $302,000 next year compared to this year's budget of roughly $345,000, Somers Point preschools will not have the chance to grow.

"In past years we have looked at adding an additional teacher but with the reduction in funding and the two percent cap, we're not able to add another teacher so we have more students that will have to be on the wait list," said Jennifer Luff, Director of Curriculum for Somers Point schools.

The idea of a longer wait list is a sad thought for parents like Lyn Marie McNasby who has seen the benefit of preschool education with her son Timmy.

"He learned so much. He knows all his letters, his numbers," said McNasby.

 "He's going to be way ahead of other kids that don't have this benefit to go to preschool so I think all children should have the benefit of preschool education."

Around the country states are spending more than $500,000 less on preschool funding. The effect of that decrease has been felt here in Somers Point where next school year's preschool budget is $40,000 less than this years."

"Luckily our board of education is really committed to the preschool program so we were able to maintain the same number of teachers for next year," said Luff.

Both school officials and parents hope to see, what they consider proper funding, restored.

"Hopefully the federal government and state government will come to the conclusion that early childhood education is so important," said New York Avenue teacher Julie Parker.

 "It provides the students and also the staff with a great foundation not only academically but socially and emotionally."

Somers Point school officials say they normally experienced consistent or a slight increase in funding each year and that this was the first year a significant drop was seen.

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