NC bill tightening pre-K eligibility clears panel - WSLS 10 NBC in Roanoke/Lynchburg Va

NC bill tightening pre-K eligibility clears panel

Posted: Updated:
RALEIGH, N.C. -

A bill toughening income requirements for pre-K applicants is headed to the North Carolina House floor for debate after passing a committee Tuesday.
    
The Health and Human Services Committee approved the bill that lowers the amount families must earn than is currently required to enter North Carolina's Pre-Kindergarten program serving at-risk 4-year-olds. The vote was 14-4.
    
Eligibility is now capped at incomes of 75 percent of the state median, which is about twice the federal poverty rate. The measure would reduce it to the poverty rate, which is about $19,500 for a family of three.
    
Currently, children who don't qualify by income can enter the program if their parents are active members of the military or died in service, have special education plans, developmental disabilities, chronic illnesses or limited English proficiency. The bill limits "at-risk" classification to those who meet the new income requirement, those with identified disabilities in special education plans and the children of active military service members, injured service members or those killed in action.
    
The change roughly halves the 60,000 children who meet income qualifications, said Rep. Justin Burr, R-Stanly and the bill's lead sponsor. But he said the bill won't actually reduce the total number of applicants served.
    
"We're simply reducing that down to a level we believe we can appropriately fund," he said. "There are no slots that will be reduced by changing this definition."
    
Burr added that the 31,000 who would meet the new income requirements still exceed current program capacity, and that doesn't include those who qualify under a different measure.
    
"There still will be a need for additional funding for all those kids that are considered 'at-risk' under this new definition," he said.
    
The state spent $128 million serving 25,000 children before former Gov. Beverly Perdue brought the number to about 30,000 with an executive order last year directing another $20 million to the program. A September 2012 survey before the executive order found 11,678 children were waiting for Pre-K services.
    
Gov. Pat McCrory's budget would cap eligibility at 130 percent of poverty while expanding the program with another $26.2 million to support 5,000 new applicants.
    
The legislature cut pre-K funding by 20 percent two years ago, but reforms capping certain categories of at-risk children and requiring most parents to make co-payments were successfully challenged in court. A state appeals court ruled last year that the state can't turn away eligible children but did not order it to provide the program for all prospective applicants.
    
Rep. Verla Insko, D-Orange, argued lawmakers should instead look to expand pre-K offerings because the program invests in the state's future workforce.
    
"I understand the budget constraints, but we are redoing our tax system now. There are a lot of loopholes that are out of date," she said. "There are many ways we could provide funding and expand this program."
    
Joining Insko's side during public comment was Jennifer Ferrell, who said she's a mother from Apex.
    
"I'm urging that you leave the eligibility requirements alone," Ferrell said. "You'll leave many children who need help behind."

  • EducationMore>>

  • Twitter pages show NC college binge drinkers passed out

    Twitter pages show NC college binge drinkers passed out

    Friday, July 25 2014 10:03 PM EDT2014-07-26 02:03:40 GMT
    Binge drinking is not a new problem on college campuses but there is a new way people are seeing its impact.Twitter pages are popping up at college campus around the country for the sole purpose of showing students passed out from drinking too much.
    Binge drinking is not a new problem on college campuses but there is a new way people are seeing its impact.Twitter pages are popping up at college campus around the country for the sole purpose of showing students passed out from drinking too much.
  • School systems anxious for new budget as school year begins

    School systems anxious for new budget as school year begins

    Thursday, July 24 2014 7:18 PM EDT2014-07-24 23:18:50 GMT
    Wake County School Board Chairwoman Christine KushnerWake County School Board Chairwoman Christine Kushner
    Three weeks into the new fiscal year, there is still no new state budget and Wake County school board members are anxiously watching for a new plan for teacher raises.
    Three weeks into the new fiscal year, there is still no new state budget and Wake County school board members are anxiously watching for a new plan for teacher raises.
  • Houston school district holds 2nd job fair in Raleigh

    Houston school district holds 2nd job fair in Raleigh

    Wednesday, July 23 2014 7:42 PM EDT2014-07-23 23:42:44 GMT
    File photoFile photo
    A Texas school district once again held a job fair in Raleigh looking for teachers who are fed-up with stale salaries in North Carolina.
    A Texas school district once again held a job fair in Raleigh looking for teachers who are fed-up with stale salaries in North Carolina.
  • Trending StoriesTrending StoriesMore>>

  • 2 charged with first-degree murder in beating death of UNC professor, cancer researcher

    2 charged with first-degree murder in beating death of UNC professor, cancer researcher

    Friday, July 25 2014 9:00 AM EDT2014-07-25 13:00:14 GMT
    A UNC research professor was robbed and beaten to death Wednesday afternoon on University Drive in Chapel Hill, police said.
    A UNC research professor was robbed and beaten to death Wednesday afternoon on University Drive in Chapel Hill, police said.
  • Woman impales herself on cemetery fence; says she was running from attacker

    Woman impales herself on cemetery fence; says she was running from attacker

    Wednesday, July 23 2014 2:53 PM EDT2014-07-23 18:53:18 GMT
    A woman claims she was running from an attacker and tried to jump a five foot fence when she became impaled. Firefighters had to use power saws and a grinding saw to cut her free, all while she was conscious. After 30 minutes she was transported to an area hospital for surgery to remove the spike sticking out of her thigh. It happened at Vine Cemetery in Hazleton. She said the nearest gate was locked. Witnesses backed...
    A woman claims she was running from an attacker and tried to jump a five foot fence when she became impaled. Firefighters had to use power saws and a grinding saw to cut her free, all while she was conscious. After 30 minutes she was transported to an area hospital for surgery to remove the spike sticking out of her thigh. It happened at Vine Cemetery in Hazleton. She said the nearest gate was locked. Witnesses backed...
  • Man charged with killing UNC professor had just left Wake Jail

    Man charged with killing UNC professor had just left Wake Jail

    Friday, July 25 2014 7:14 PM EDT2014-07-25 23:14:57 GMT
    Derick Davis II, 23 (Left) and Troy Arrington, Jr., 27, (Right)Derick Davis II, 23 (Left) and Troy Arrington, Jr., 27, (Right)
    An Orange County dispatcher sounded shocked Wednesday afternoon when a 911 caller described finding University of North Carolina professor Feng Liu beaten and dying on a street near the UNC campus.
    An Orange County dispatcher sounded shocked Wednesday afternoon when a 911 caller described finding University of North Carolina professor Feng Liu beaten and dying on a street near the UNC campus.
Powered by WorldNow

WSLS 10, P.O. Box 10
Roanoke, VA 24022-0010

Telephone: 540.981.9110
Fax: 540.343.3157
Email: news@wsls.com

Can't find something?
Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Media General Communications Holdings, LLC. A Media General Company.