- Associated Press - Thursday, May 22, 2014

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) - A vote by the Mat-Su Borough Assembly failed to override a mayoral veto of a budget amendment that would have given the school district $350,000 for a preschool program.

Assembly members on Tuesday voted 4-3 in favor of restoring funds. The vote fell short of the five needed to override the veto Friday by borough Mayor Larry DeVilbiss, who called preschools “glorified daycare,” the Anchorage Daily News (https://is.gd/NRcOkV) reported.

Lucy Hope, head of the school district student support services, said that without money from the borough, the district will cut 130 children from its public preschool program and close six of seven locations offered last year. A Talkeetna program serving about 10 children will be the only remaining preschool if the district doesn’t get more money through grants, Hope said.

The Widening the Net program offered preschool at sites across the valley last school year. Hope said priority for admissions went to parents of 4-year-olds who either didn’t qualify for Head Start but couldn’t afford private preschool or were English-language learners.

The program was created two years ago.

For the 2013-2014 school year, the cost to operate the program was about $650,000. Of that, $350,000 came from a governor’s grant, with the rest coming from a legislative appropriation.

Much of the governor’s grant funding expired this year, however. A legislative grant request to fund next year’s program didn’t come through, borough Superintendent Deena Paramo said in an email distributed Wednesday to officials.

Regarding Tuesday’s action, assembly member Steve Colligan said he voted against restoring the funds. He said the borough had already provided 100 percent of the school board’s request for funds, and preschools were not in the budget.

DeVilbiss raised concerns in his veto that the district wouldn’t be making a one-time request for funding.

“You are placing a new service with huge implications on the backs of our residential taxpayers, DeVilbiss wrote in a letter last week vetoing the budget appropriation.

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Information from: Anchorage (Alaska) Daily News, https://www.adn.com


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