Barbour County Closes Pre-K Program

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An area school system is cutting one of its educational programs, after not being able to pay for its operating costs.

Barbour County's school system will be eliminating its public preschool program.

Starting this fall, no Barbour County school will be offering the free pre-kindergarten program that's running now.

Leaders say it's due to rising costs and stricter requirements for schools.

Barbour County Primary School is having a lot of changes come to its school, not all welcomed.

Early last fall, News 4 reported on a fire that severely damaged some of its classrooms.

Now, that same school will soon be turning some students away. That's because the Barbour County school system is eliminating their free pre-kindergarten program.

"This was not a decision that had any good feelings about it. It was a decision that we labored on," says Barbour County Schools Superintendent, Eddie Wright.

Leaders say this decision is bittersweet. Even though they have to cut the pre-kindergarten program, it could mean that the declining enrollment of the past may now be over.

Barbour County has been funding the pre-kindergarten program with money that was given from the state based on enrollment figures.

Since the school system has had declining numbers for the past few years, it's freed up enough money to have a pre-kindergarten teacher and three teacher's aids.

But now, the enrollment has leveled off and school leaders say they can't afford the approximately $180,000 dollar program.

"The program was administered very well and if there is any way in the future that we can resurrect that program, if we can find the funding, it will be at the very top of our priority list of needs," says Wright.

There are 63 students in the pre-kindergarten program this year. School leaders say they've had as many as 80 in the past.

The teacher that was teaching the pre-kindergarten students did not get fired. Officials say she will be needed to fill a needed kindergarten position in the fall.

Barbour County will still offer free preschool programs for special needs students.

Eufaula city school systems still offer free pre-kindergarten classes.

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