Elementary schools in South Shelby County are struggling because of budget cuts, and many parents say the district is trying to cover up the problems by using the term “pre-K” to describe their kids.
But a new federal study by the U.S. Department of Education found that some schools are not meeting state standards for pre-K and the number of students attending kindergarten is actually decreasing.
“Some schools are struggling with enrollment,” said Diane Tippetts, who heads up the Shelby County Schools district.
“Some districts are struggling to make ends meet.
And some districts are not making good on their promises.”
According to the latest data from the U:nces, the number attending kindergarten in Shelby county is down by 6,826 from last year, from 3,769 to 2,879.
That means almost 4,000 students are now in kindergarten in the county.
Some districts in Shelby have been making promises to families that they would be able to keep kids enrolled in pre-kindergarten for at least another year.
But the number dropping in the past few years shows that some districts were not making the promises and that some families are struggling.
Shelby County Schools Superintendent David Mott has said that he and other school leaders want to continue the pre-school program for a year, but the reality is that it will not be able afford to continue doing that.
“We have made progress over the past couple of years,” said Tippets.
“But it is still not enough.”
Mott has proposed raising the minimum age of pre-School enrollment from 16 to 18, but that would only make sense for districts with high poverty rates.
He said that if he and others were serious about making promises, they would have put more money toward the program.
“It’s a tough situation because we are seeing that some areas are struggling and some districts aren’t,” said Mott.
“We’re still committed to doing this.
But we also recognize that some of our pre- kindergens are in very difficult financial situations.”
Tippetts said she and other leaders have heard from parents about concerns about the school districts finances and they are asking for patience.
“I know there are a lot of concerns,” said Meghan Johnson, who has three children in Shelby schools.
“It’s something that’s going to get better, and we will make sure that it does.”
But Tippits said that parents should not expect a quick fix to the problems.
“What we want is for us to make sure our kids are getting the opportunity to get ready for kindergarten so that we can get them ready for the day they leave our homes,” said Shep.
Tippets said that families can expect to see improvements in their kids grades as well.
“The district is in a better position than it was a year ago, and they have the resources to get to that level of readiness,” she said.