Funding for Florida VPK holding steady - WFLA News Channel 8

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>>

  • Are background checks enough for Florida teachers?

    Are background checks enough for Florida teachers?

    Friday, April 18 2014 7:41 PM EDT2014-04-18 23:41:35 GMT

    In an effort to weed out potential perverts, Florida law requires fingerprinting and criminal background checks before school districts hire employees that will have any contact with children.

    In an effort to weed out potential perverts, Florida law requires fingerprinting and criminal background checks before school districts hire employees that will have any contact with children.


  • Pasco mix-up sends registration notices to wrong drivers

    Pasco mix-up sends registration notices to wrong drivers

    Friday, April 18 2014 6:02 PM EDT2014-04-18 22:02:51 GMT
    The vehicle registration information of hundreds of drivers in Pasco County were sent to the wrong person in a mix-up that led to the firing of a contractor.
    The vehicle registration information of hundreds of drivers in Pasco County were sent to the wrong person in a mix-up that led to the firing of a contractor.
  • Flushable wipes, not so flushable says Tampa's wastewater officials

    Flushable wipes, not so flushable says Tampa's wastewater officials

    Friday, April 18 2014 3:52 PM EDT2014-04-18 19:52:20 GMT
    Personal wipes, baby wipes, face wipes, flushable wipes. They are all designed to help us deal with delicate issues. But the wipes themselves are actually pretty sturdy and increasingly local water systems are finding they are creating costly problems.
    Personal wipes, baby wipes, face wipes, flushable wipes. They are all designed to help us deal with delicate issues. But the wipes themselves are actually pretty sturdy and increasingly local water systems are finding they are creating costly problems.
  • NewsMore>>

  • SKorean president: Ferry crew actions 'murderous'

    SKorean president: Ferry crew actions 'murderous'

    Monday, April 21 2014 3:13 AM EDT2014-04-21 07:13:43 GMT
    South Korean President Park Geun-hye said Monday that the captain and some crew members of the sunken ferry committed "unforgivable, murderous acts" in the disaster, which left more than 300 people dead or missing.
    South Korean President Park Geun-hye said Monday that the captain and some crew members of the sunken ferry committed "unforgivable, murderous behavior" in the disaster, which left more than 300 people dead or missing.
  • After bombs, Boston Marathon under tight security

    After bombs, Boston Marathon under tight security

    Monday, April 21 2014 3:06 AM EDT2014-04-21 07:06:47 GMT
    For years, state and local officials have conducted a "tabletop exercise" before the Boston Marathon, a meeting that allows them to study a map of the 26.2-mile course from Hopkinton to Boston's Copley Square...
    For years, state and local officials have conducted a "tabletop exercise" before the Boston Marathon, a meeting that allows them to study a map of the 26.2-mile course from Hopkinton to Boston's Copley Square and plan...
  • Two killed, two injured in Tampa park shooting

    Two killed, two injured in Tampa park shooting

    Monday, April 21 2014 2:23 AM EDT2014-04-21 06:23:07 GMT
    Nico CrawfordNico Crawford
    Two people were killed and two injured in a shooting at Al Barnes Park on 32nd Street in east Tampa on Sunday. Zedmon Culpepper, 17, and Nico Charles Crawford, 22, died at the scene, Tampa police said. The two injured victims, whose names were not released, were in critical condition at Tampa General Hospital late Sunday.
    Two people were killed and two injured in a shooting at Al Barnes Park on 32nd Street in east Tampa on Sunday. Zedmon Culpepper, 17, and Nico Charles Crawford, 22, died at the scene, Tampa police said. The two injured victims, whose names were not released, were in critical condition at Tampa General Hospital late Sunday.
Powered by WorldNow

200 South Parker Street, Tampa, FL 33606

Telephone: 813.228.8888
Fax: 813.225.2770
Email: news@wfla.com

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