Superintendent recommends Fayette go along with reduced Pre-K schedule of 160 days

Fayette County School Superintendent Jeff Bearden

Georgia public schools next school year will see the number of days that Pre-K students will be in the classroom decrease from 180 to 160. The Fayette County Board of Education at the April 11 work session heard a recommendation that the school system provide the 160-day schedule rather than using additional funds to bring the schedule back up to 180 days.

An effort led by by Gov. Nathan Deal will see the number of school days for Pre-K students reduced from 180 to 160 beginning in August. Board members were told that for Fayette to retain the 180-day schedule would carry an approximate personnel cost of $104,281 for the eight teachers and eight parapros affected by the change.

A discussion with Superintendent Jeff Bearden and school system staff followed, with the board hearing that having a 160-day school year for Pre-K would not be detrimental, though a better state-imposed option might have been to retain the 180 days but have a shorter school day.

Janet Smola and other board members wanted to make sure that the monetary difference in expanding the Pre-K schedule back to 180 days would not negatively impact other budgetary considerations.

Bearden in response noted that those budget considerations included addressing, “a lot of needs out there,” adding that his recommendation would be to go with the new 160-day schedule.

“I think it’s the quality of days, not the quantity of days,” said board member Sam Tolbert.

The board also had a brief discussion on the need for the school system to offer Pre-K classes. Board members were told that those classes often contained some of the most needy children and that, if not offered by the school system, those 180 students could be picked up by various private Pre-K providers that are often not staffed with teachers that possess the same educational background as those in the Fayette school system.

Chairman Bob Todd ended the discussion, saying that quality education should be Pre-K through grade 12.

Bearden will bring the recommendation back to the board during a voting meeting.