Turlock Unified School District Officials held an informational closed-door meeting with state-funded preschool personnel and union representatives on Friday.
A source who attended the meeting said “it went better than we all expected it would. We were afraid they would shut the entire program down.”
According to the source, who asked to remain anonymous due to fear of reprisal from the district, TUSD Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources Heidi Lawler told the preschool personnel the district’s preliminary plan is to reduce the number of children in two classes from 24 to 17 in an effort to save money in uncertain budget times. As a result there will likely be at least one paraprofessional laid off.
Lawler confirmed the reduction was accurate.
“When looking around us there are programs closing and we are really trying to keep this one going,” she said.
Currently, there are 130 students being served by state-funded preschools in TUSD. With the reduction, the district will serve 112 students next school year.
Lawler said the district is looking at a loss of 4 to 12 percent in funding from the state for the preschools, depending on how the budget pans out. At 4 percent, the 24 to 17 student plan would continue but should the worst case scenario manifest then the district would meet with the preschool personnel again.
“We will continue to monitor funding from the state,” said Lawler.
TUSD plans to help keep the program operating by chipping in $21,000 to pay toward the loan on a portable classroom at Cunningham Elementary’s preschool campus. Lawler said the money is coming from the district’s facilities budget.