Funding for Florida VPK holding steady - WJBF-TV ABC 6 Augusta-Aiken

Funding for Florida VPK holding steady

Posted: Updated:
Bailey Richardson, student at Smart Start Pre-Prep. Bailey Richardson, student at Smart Start Pre-Prep.
HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, FL (WFLA) -

Bailey Richardson's biggest concern is which color marker to use for her drawing. She's in voluntary pre-kindergarten at Smart Start Pre-Prep off Race Track Road in Hillsborough County. The woman who runs the center, Pamela Mace, has a lot more on her mind than Richardson.

"A lot of this has been digging into my own pocket," Mace, who's been with the center since 1993, said. "The kids come first, then teachers, then the rest of it."

A Rutgers University report puts Florida 35th out of 39 states for funding Voluntary Pre-Kindergarten Programs. That same report states that in Florida, funding levels have "fallen so low as to bring into question the effectiveness of their programs by any reasonable standard."

State funding per student per year in Hillsborough County follows the downturn pattern. 

2010 - $2,672

2011 - $2,500

2012 - $2,281

Dave McGerald, CEO of the Early Learning Coalition of Hillsborough County, says he has a solution, but that it might be "unpopular."

"Other states are focusing their dollars on children at risk," McGerald said. "They're not saying 'we have a program for every child.' It is good for every child but we can't afford it. It makes no sense to keep pouring these dollars in if its not a quality program."

Mace says she gets about $12.76 per student per day from the state. That number used to be around $15 or $16. 

"My teachers that have their Bachelor's are working for $12.50 an hour," Mace said. "The state wants us to put BAs in the classrooms but where's the money?"

VPK Providers can breath a little easier because according to the Florida Office of Early Learning, state funding will stay the same the next few years and not continue going down. 

Shan Goff, the Executive Director, sent us a statement, saying, "While clearly important, funding alone does not equate to quality or effectiveness," Goff wrote. "Florida's commitment to free pre kindergarten for 4-year-old children places us first in the nation for access."

Mace keeps her positive outlook but says even if the funding doesn't go down, it's still not enough.

"We're picking up the pieces," Mace said. "It's the children that are suffering the most because they don't understand."  

  • 8 On Your SideMore>>

  • Mold takes over St. Pete condo, creeps into neighbors' homes

    Mold takes over St. Pete condo, creeps into neighbors' homes

    Friday, August 29 2014 5:48 PM EDT2014-08-29 21:48:06 GMT
    Josephine Ramos is literally sick about the toxic black mold growing in the St. Petersburg condominium beside hers. She's been feeling ill for months with headaches and breathing problems. Recently, she had peak inside the condo next doors and couldn't believe her eyes.
    Josephine Ramos is literally sick about the toxic black mold growing in the St. Petersburg condominium beside hers. She's been feeling ill for months with headaches and breathing problems. Recently, she had peak inside the condo next doors and couldn't believe her eyes.
  • Lakeland neighborhood has continuing water problems, asks 8OYS for help

    Lakeland neighborhood has continuing water problems, asks 8OYS for help

    Friday, August 29 2014 5:03 PM EDT2014-08-29 21:03:34 GMT
    Some Lakeland residents are tired of wondering whether they'll have water at home. Over the past month, they tell 8 On Your Side that they've lost water with no warning at least five times. And what's worse, the water stays off for up to eight hours at a time
    Some Lakeland residents are tired of wondering whether they'll have water at home. Over the past month, they tell 8 On Your Side that they've lost water with no warning at least five times. And what's worse, the water stays off for up to eight hours at a time
  • Abercrombie dropping logo to boost brand

    Abercrombie dropping logo to boost brand

    Friday, August 29 2014 7:15 AM EDT2014-08-29 11:15:46 GMT
    The Abercrombie & Fitch logo has lost the power it once wielded, so the struggling teen retailer plans to strip off the once-prized logo from its clothing. Shares tumbled Thursday after it reported weak sales as more teens shop elsewhere. 
    The Abercrombie & Fitch logo has lost the power it once wielded, so the struggling teen retailer plans to strip off the once-prized logo from its clothing. Shares tumbled Thursday after it reported weak sales as more teens shop elsewhere. 
  • NewsMore>>

  • Man struck, killed on US 41 in Tampa

    Man struck, killed on US 41 in Tampa

    Saturday, August 30 2014 12:08 PM EDT2014-08-30 16:08:23 GMT
    The fatal crash is under investigation by the Florida Highway Patrol. The fatal crash is under investigation by the Florida Highway Patrol.
    A 43-year-old Gibsonton man was struck and killed Friday night while walking along US 41 in Tampa.James Warfle was pronounced dead at the scene at approximately 10:30 pm.
    A 43-year-old Gibsonton man was struck and killed Friday night while walking along US 41 in Tampa.James Warfle was pronounced dead at the scene at approximately 10:30 pm.
  • Missing New Port Richey couple rescued from Gulf

    Missing New Port Richey couple rescued from Gulf

    Saturday, August 30 2014 11:39 AM EDT2014-08-30 15:39:40 GMT
    The Coast Guard towed the couple's disabled sailboat back to land early Saturday.The Coast Guard towed the couple's disabled sailboat back to land early Saturday.
    A Bay area couple that failed to return from a boating excursion in the Gulf of Mexico was rescued early Saturday approximately 10 miles northwest of Anclote Key.A friend of Bogdan and Elizabeth Makowski contacted the United States Coast Guard Station Sand Key on Friday after not hearing from the couple for several days.
    A Bay area couple that failed to return from a boating excursion in the Gulf of Mexico was rescued early Saturday approximately 10 miles northwest of Anclote Key.A friend of Bogdan and Elizabeth Makowski contacted the United States Coast Guard Station Sand Key on Friday after not hearing from the couple for several days.
  • Convicted felon charged with murder in Brooksville mass shooting

    Convicted felon charged with murder in Brooksville mass shooting

    Saturday, August 30 2014 8:20 AM EDT2014-08-30 12:20:02 GMT
    Mason III, 42, has an arrest record that goes back more than 20 years. Mason III, 42, has an arrest record that goes back more than 20 years.
    A career criminal with an arrest record that goes back more than two decades is facing three counts of murder and one count of attempted murder in connection with a mass shooting that occurred Friday night in Brooksville.As George June Mason III attempted to flee the crime scene just as law enforcement arrived he was struck by a pick-up truck.
    A career criminal with an arrest record that goes back more than two decades is facing three counts of murder and one count of attempted murder in connection with a mass shooting that occurred Friday night in Brooksville.As George June Mason III attempted to flee the crime scene just as law enforcement arrived he was struck by a pick-up truck.
Powered by WorldNow

1336 Augusta West Parkway
Augusta, GA 30909

Telephone: 706.722.6664
Email: talkback6@wjbf.com

Can't find something?
Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Media General Communications Holdings, LLC. A Media General Company.