On Wednesday, I read that the Rockdale County Public Schools administration has decided to re-program $62,690 to fund the pre-K program for the full 180 days this school year. The state of Georgia had decided that due to shortfalls in the state budget that it could only fund 160 days of instruction this year.
My question for Superintendent Samuel King is why is RCPS in pre-kindergarten education at all? Do we not have plenty of pre-K private small businesses operating in Rockdale County? Why is RCPS in direct competition with them and at an unfair disadvantage to the private businesses because the RCPS program is totally free to the parents?
In my view, government entities should generally not be in competition with local businesses. Now King has decided to not only take state funds for the pre-K program -- which largely come from the taxpayers -- but also to take local dollars directly from Rockdale County taxpayers to the tune of $62,690 to provide 20 more days of instruction. It is also unclear in the article which areas were reduced in the budget to fully fund this program.
Why aren't the parents being asked to pay for the additional 20 days of instruction? They would still receive 160 days of free instruction and only have to pay for 20 days, or one-ninth of the costs? Why is it more appropriate to take the taxpayers' money, without any public hearing, and pay for this, especially when the school board is again in the process of raising the property owners' millage rate?
In my view, RCPS and the school board are totally out of touch with the tough economic times many Rockdale residents are experiencing and have no interest in hearing from constituents, at least not the taxpaying constituents.
It is time to get involved and send a clear message to King and the members of the school board. If they don't get the message, vote out the school board members in 2012.
-- James J. Roppo