Thousands of Memphis Pre-K Spots Slashed

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(Memphis) It's about to get harder for you to enroll your child in a pre-k program because almost half the pre-k spots in Memphis are being slashed because of federal budget cuts.

A sales tax increase here in Memphis would stop that and open up even more chances for your child to get in a pre-k program, but the sales tax increase may never see the light of day.

Over the next year it is possible for people in Memphis to see three tax increases.

With so much competition for a tax increase, some won't pass.

Even though you're paying the government more, you’re getting less and it's costing children opportunities that will impact the city for decades to come.

This year, you will likely see your Shelby County property tax go up to pay for unified schools.

Memphis Mayor A C Wharton also wants to raise the city property tax rate to pay for his budget.

And then there's one more tax increase.

“Right now we've proposed a city council sales tax increase but we have not finalized the vote,” said Councilman Jim Strickland.

Strickland wants the sales tax raised half a percent to restore the nearly 2,700 pre-k spots being wiped out across the city.

The plan needs just one more vote to pass, but Strickland doesn't think Memphis voters are likely to approve it because of the two other tax increases, “I think our number one problem in Memphis is population loss because when we lose population there are less demands for homes and values go down and there is less of a tax base."

He says people are being driven away because of crime, education and the highest property taxes in the state.

Memphis teacher Brittney Nesbit says good education trumps high taxes, “I see so many students coming in that are so below reading level and fundamentals they need to grow as high school students."

Julie Slater says no more taxes, “Reallocate funds and certainly be a lot more lean in what you’re doing so you can have more for programs like that."

The cuts slash over 80 pre-k classes in Shelby County.

It's been proven that a pre-k education helps students achieve higher success throughout school, and here in Memphis fewer than 30% of 4th graders read on a 4th grade level.