MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The Shelby County budget is already passed, but now commission chairman James Harvey wants a little more money to get pre-k rolling in Shelby County this year.
Harvey’s plan would use $3 million left over from the surplus last year, and pull another $3 million from the new budget.
Walter Bailey supports the plan, “The administration had every opportunity to come forward with a plan a long time ago. If it were serious about getting involved in this. But it did nothing until we put the plan on the table. I say we move ahead and move ahead quickly.”
Mayor Luttrell has a different plan.
Commissioner Steve Basar is backing Luttrell’s idea to use that same $3-million dollar surplus, plus private donations, to keep Shelby County Schools from being involved in pre-k.
Basar said, “If we are looking at expanding pre k, we need to look at something that is sustainable so we are not ramping it up, and then pulling the rug out from pre-k if the budget isn’t there.”
The majority of the council supported Chairman Harvest’s plan and will have a full vote next week.
Commissioner Sidney Chism urged, “We’ve got to move forward and do what’s right for those kids left in the system.”
Commissioners shot down the mayor’s plan, but will hear it again next week.
While most on the board support pre-k education, not everyone sees the rush in starting it this school year.
Terry Roland took a shot at their neighbors across the street when he said, “I cant believe this body is being like the city of Memphis. Every time we get a few dollars ahead we run and find something to spend it on.”
Shelby County Schools Education Foundation presented its plan today to show it is making progress on getting kids kindergarten ready.
The mayor was not at the committee meeting to present his own plan, but that may change when it’s presented to the whole commission.