$6M to pre-K passes in commission committee - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

$6M to pre-K passes in commission committee

A tug-of-war over pre-K funding gripped the Shelby County Commission for well over an hour Wednesday. (Photo Source: WMC Action News 5) A tug-of-war over pre-K funding gripped the Shelby County Commission for well over an hour Wednesday. (Photo Source: WMC Action News 5)
The county mayor's office said not so fast. (Photo Source: WMC Action News 5) The county mayor's office said not so fast. (Photo Source: WMC Action News 5)

(WMC) - A tug-of-war over pre-K funding gripped the Shelby County Commission for well over an hour Wednesday.

Some commissioners want to dedicate $3 million in surplus money and another $3 million in general funds to pre-K. The county mayor's office said not so fast.

"I think it's really important to get education on the right track and there have been studies it affects their ability to learn and read," Shelby County mother Melissa Campbell said.

All the mothers WMC Action News 5 spoke with support more money for pre-K, ASAP.

"Our children do need a fresh start, fresh beginning. Often times out children come to school not ready because they only enter kindergarten," mother Angela Brookins said.

But the county CAO says Mayor Mark Luttrell's office wants to wait to study the subject.

"We would give ourselves until January to have a good sustainable plan," Shelby County Chief Administrative Officer Harvey Kennedy said.

The big debate, would municipal schools share in the funding? The new municipal schools have not set up pre-K classes.

"Do they think they've got the angle on poor kids in Memphis? Do they think there's not any poor kids in the rest of Shelby County?" Shelby County Commissioner Terry Roland said.

The county attorney clarified all the schools would get money according to their average daily attendance. Then, Commissioner Mike Ritz had strong words for the mayor's office, accusing them of secretly conducting the pre-K study.

"You can color these words any way you want, Mr. Kennedy, but I don't think it's appropriate, and I hope the commission doesn't buy into asking us to support something you've already started, just to get our endorsement of it," said Ritz.

The vote to dedicate the $6 million to pre-K passed in committee. The mayor's vote to hold off and study the matter failed. Both items must still be heard at the main meeting.

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