Funding for Florida VPK holding steady - WNCN: News, Weather

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>>

  • FL vehicle registration renewal fees drop

    FL vehicle registration renewal fees drop

    Monday, September 1 2014 11:48 AM EDT2014-09-01 15:48:49 GMT
    That little gift you get from the state on your birthday every year, to renew your car tag, is going to be cheaper starting Monday.  The cut will save drivers about $13 to $25 depending on the size of their vehicle.
    That little gift you get from the state on your birthday every year, to renew your car tag, is going to be cheaper starting Monday.  The cut will save drivers about $13 to $25 depending on the size of their vehicle.
  • 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
  • NewsMore>>

  • St. Petersburg plane pulled from Tampa Bay after Sunday crash

    St. Petersburg plane pulled from Tampa Bay after Sunday crash

    Monday, September 1 2014 2:48 PM EDT2014-09-01 18:48:00 GMT
    The plane that crashed in Tampa Bay, off the coast of St. Petersburg Sunday,has been recovered.A recovery team started work early this morning. It took hours to bring the plane up from about 25 feet under water. The company that owns the plane, Aerial Banner, Inc., sent company representatives to St. Petersburg.
    The plane that crashed in Tampa Bay, off the coast of St. Petersburg Sunday,has been recovered.A recovery team started work early this morning. It took hours to bring the plane up from about 25 feet under water. The company that owns the plane, Aerial Banner, Inc., sent company representatives to St. Petersburg.
  • Pinellas Park police reunite trapped ducklings with mother

    Pinellas Park police reunite trapped ducklings with mother

    Monday, September 1 2014 2:15 PM EDT2014-09-01 18:15:46 GMT
    Photo courtesy Facebook/Pinellas Park Police DepartmentPhoto courtesy Facebook/Pinellas Park Police Department
    Police officers in Pinellas Park helped reunite a family of ducks on Sunday.
    Police officers in Pinellas Park helped reunite a family of ducks on Sunday.
  • Bubba 'The Love Sponge' to announce new Tampa gig

    Bubba 'The Love Sponge' to announce new Tampa gig

    Monday, September 1 2014 1:47 PM EDT2014-09-01 17:47:16 GMT
    File photo of Bubba the Love Sponge ClemFile photo of Bubba the Love Sponge Clem
    Bubba "The Love Sponge" announced on his Twitter page Monday that he will soon have a new Tampa home.
    Bubba "The Love Sponge" announced on his Twitter page Monday that he will soon have a new Tampa home.
Powered by WorldNow

1205 Front St., Raleigh
N.C., 27609

Telephone: 919.836.1717
Fax: 919.836.1687
Email: newstips@wncn.com

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