The Board of Education approved the 2014-15 budget request on April 8. It calls for a $32.5 million increase over last year. That increase includes $17.3 million in required spending like inflation and payouts to charter schools. The rest is made up of strategic priorities to improve instruction in our classrooms.
- Budget Priority: Adding 340 New Prekindergarten Seats
- Investment: $3.4 million for hiring teachers, buying equipment, developing curriculum and more
One of our top budget priorities this year is to start expanding pre-k now so we can serve all eligible families in Davidson County by 2018. The first step is adding 340 new high-quality pre-k seats next year in strategically located Pre-k Model Learning Centers.
We've already talked about the whys and the research extensively, so let's get into the particulars that give this plan the potential for success for a relatively small investment.
The Board of Education has approved turning Ross and Bordeaux Elementary Schools into model pre-k centers, as well as opening new classrooms in the Casa Azafran community center on Nolensville road. These centers will provide:
- Exemplary teachers and assistant teachers in every classroom with knowledge of early childhood development
- Instructional leaders focused on creating centers of excellence in staff development
- Intensive focus on language development, early math skills and multicultural programming
- Priority placed on children's social-emotional development and executive function
- Full-day programming (8:00 am to 3:00 pm), with before and after-care options
- Strong parent engagement, including parent education, to support student learning at home
- Partnerships to ensure comprehensive health and social services for students and families
The need for more pre-k seats is particularly urgent now, as changes to Tennessee kindergarten age requirements mean as many as 800-1,000 Nashville children will be left without an affordable, high-quality early learning option. If we want to see real progress in educational outcomes in Nashville, we have to start early. That means getting more students into pre-k, where they can be adequately prepared for a rich and rewarding K-12 learning experience.