Budget cuts, possible job cuts in Tennessee have some worried about Pre-K

By: Rob Pratt, Michael Grider Email
By: Rob Pratt, Michael Grider Email

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) -- State jobs could be on the chopping block when Gov. Phil Bredesen releases his budget plan.

That could happen as soon as Tuesday.

Whether those jobs are cut or not, some services you depend on will probably faces cuts as well.

With so much uncertainty, many are worried.

But most agree, despite the governor's strong belief in the program, those involved in Pre-K education have good reason to be concerned.

She's five-years old and several months away from kindergarten, but Jeniffer DelGado can already read. Her mother Jessica says Pre-K made it possible.

"I didn't graduate from high school, my husband didn't graduate from high school and we're doing the best we can for these kids. We're trying to get them a head start."

Judith Hiscock is a Pre-K Teacher at South Knox Elementary who says, "The children come from homes where they could not get this kind of teaching and learning situation without us."

For every child here enrolled in Pre-K at South Knox Elementary, there are many more who are waiting for the same opportunity.

Hiscock says, "If we don't expand then we've offered some children an opportunity that we can't offer to others and that's a major problem to us because we're a public school and we like for everybody to have the same opportunities."

Parent James McCabe says, "It seems to me they need to put more money into this program instead of taking stuff away from this program."

Neither the state nor the county will say exactly where cuts may come to this or any program.

Knox County Finance Director John Troyer says, "What we are doing is looking at priorities and some things are in and some things are out and depending on the state cuts, maybe our list of things that will be out will be longer."

Some say raising taxes would help. The Mayor says no. Commissioner R. Larry Smith agrees.

Smith says, "If we have a tax increase, it looks like we've not been good stewards of our money at this point. We've got to tighten our belts just like the people at home."

The governor has said protecting K-12 education will be a priority.

The county finance director says last year, Knox County got $19 Million in additional funding for the basic education program.

The county was supposed to get an additional $9 Million this year, but no one yet knows if that will happen now.


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