Lufkin ISD Pre-K program to close if state cuts grant

Superintendent Roy Knight
Superintendent Roy Knight
Hackney Primary Principal Shirley Jolley
Hackney Primary Principal Shirley Jolley

By Morgan Thomas - bio | email

LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) – Lufkin I.S.D. is facing sweeping budget cuts.  If approved by lawmakers, the latest state budget eliminates all education grants this isn't good news for LISD the Early Start Pre-K program since they receive $680,000 a year to keep it going.

"If we were not able to sustain that money to replace that I have most vulnerable pupils will lose a year and half of education," said Knight.

For more than decade, the program has served hundreds of the community's three and four year-olds.

"We were one of the first schools to receive the grant so we kind of pioneered it," said Knight.

Creating curriculum for the young students' future scholastic success.

"Specific to children of poverty - white, black and brown... It's our efforts early to help them overcome that delayed development because of poverty," said Knight.

Knight says parents of lower-income families often work two or three jobs... leaving little time to spend teaching their kids.

Hackney Primary Principal Shirley Jolley says this program gives them a chance.

"A lot of times kids are not read to. If we're going to increase their vocabulary and comprehension, listening skills - they've got to be read to," said Jolley.

It doesn't matter who you ask - the teachers, school leaders, even parents - they all say the same thing. It's money well spent teaching life-long learners. Jolley says she can't imagine closing down these classrooms.

"If they don't start with pre-k 3 - by the time they get to kindergarten they're already two years behind," said Jolley.

"They'll never recover. Those kids over the next two years they have lost those opportunities for early education," said Knight.

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