Wake early education program facing possible budget cuts

Posted April 1, 2010

— Wake County public schools’ proposed budget cuts could impact an early education program that's open to every family in the county.

Aylett Colston is one of many parents who've spoken and written to school board members to save Project Enlightenment, an intervention program for children ages birth through Kindergarten.

Wake education program facing budget cuts Wake education program facing budget cuts

More than 60 staff members provide classroom consultations, family counseling, developmental screening, parent education and training for early childhood professionals, according to the program’s Web site.

“We’re fighting because we know how important it is, and we feel like it would be morally irresponsible not to do anything for the children coming after us,” said Colston, whose 5-year-old autistic son, Alexander Thomas, is in the program.

Project Enlightenment, at 501 S. Boylan Ave. in Raleigh, is part of the Wake school system’s Central Services, which has been targeted for budget cuts.

“Without Project Enlightenment, a lot of our kids would really be struggling, and all of our families would really be struggling,” Colston said.

In response to the superintendent's 2010-11 proposed budget, Wake school board member Carolyn Morrison asked what impact the proposed cuts could have on Project Enlightenment.

School staff responded and mentioned several possible cuts to the program, which has a $3.5 million operating budget:

  • $30,700: total non-personnel reduction
  • $8,700: elimination of a contract with a speech language pathologist. The school system could bring this service under special education services.
  • $6,500: reduction in Web site and database maintenance and upgrades contract.
  • $6,000: reduction in purchase of new books and computers. "Current inventory is sufficient."
  • $4,000: elimination of printing a brochure
  • $3,000: reduction in dollars to replace furniture
  • $2,500: reduction in professional development
  • elimination of vacant positions and reduction in force of filled positions

During the 2008-09 school year, the center served 2,100 children, 3,300 parents and 2,700 teachers. Learn more about the program's facts and figures.

The program began in 1969 with federal funding. During the past 40 years, the Wake school system has financially supported the program's growth. Today, 70 percent of the program's funding comes from the school system, and the remainder comes from grants.

“Any position we lose will mean that there will be children and families we won’t be able to serve,” said Project Enlightenment Director Cynthia Chamblee.


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  • Da Toy Maker Apr 1, 2010

    "if insurance companies covered for the therapies needed, it would be a non-issue. unfortunately, some jerk in a suit at Blue Cross needs to have a 5 million dollar home as opposed to allowing the company to provide service for children born with disabilities.


    I could see both side of the argument. The difficult part is where to draw the line, right? Where is the parental responsibility end, where should the government take over, etc.

    This is more the reason for the Healthcare reform. As for the current bill, that is up for the debate. Not sure about the current bill, good, bad, all depends how you look at it.

    I just truely count our blessing that all of us are healthy and we have health insurance through work at this point.

  • readme Apr 1, 2010

    It's a great program that I personally have worked with before. But in a time of financial crisis, some things have to go. I can think if a lot of better ways for the state to save money though. And it's great that this program is free to all. I find it ironic that when those of us that make decent money put in ten times more taxes than everyone else, they still expect us to pay when others don't for the services our taxes provide. You are redistributing wealth twice. That's not exactly fair is it? Where do you draw the line?

  • soyousay Apr 1, 2010

    The good news is that "find" doesn't get to do his rather odd needs testing for these children. Any more than Grandma gets needs tested before Medicare pays buckets for futile therapy. I suspect find is one of those that would be the first to mount the battlements, if that was done. Personally, I think if you smoke, drink or get fat we don't pay either -fit any of those Find?
    It is very easy for people to hide behind cute names so they can post this nonsense - most are very young and have no idea.

  • MileageDontTakeYourKidsCrap Apr 1, 2010

    fwiw: when my dad passed away i was left a substantial amount of money in inheritance, to the tune of a couple hundred thousand dollars. guess where it all went? on therapy and support for my son. so i really don't care to hear about how families of special needs children need to be 'evaluated' to see if we've cut back on everything before we should qualify for assistance.

    if insurance companies covered for the therapies needed, it would be a non-issue. unfortunately, some jerk in a suit at Blue Cross needs to have a 5 million dollar home as opposed to allowing the company to provide service for children born with disabilities.

  • MileageDontTakeYourKidsCrap Apr 1, 2010

    i guess all us selfish parents of kids with disabilities should have just given birth to healthy babies instead, right?

    ridiculous. i had two healthy pregnancies, i did everything right, i still gave birth to an autistic son. i didn't ask for that. all i wanted was a healthy baby and did everything in my power to ensure that he was.

    i suppose everyone should just stop reproducing altogether...the way i see it, i made out 'easy', with my son 'only' needing therapy and intervention that cost a few grand a month. i can't imagine how 'selfish' those greedy parents with severely disabled kids are. geez, the audacity of us selfish people, producing kids with special needs and not being able to afford the treatments because the insurance we PAY for out of pocket WONT cover it.

  • jkparrish Apr 1, 2010

    Instead of getting rid of the programs that benefit children and that families utilize, why dont we look at some of the excess staffing at schools?

    Do some schools really need teachers assistants? Some of them are so old and behind the times, the students are teaching them!

  • gnboliver2 Apr 1, 2010

    During the first congress (1789-1791) of the new nation, a bill was presented to congress to subsidize cod fishermen. James Madison responded to this request with the following quote:

    "If Congress can employ money indefinitely to the general welfare, and are the sole and supreme judges of the general welfare, they may take the care of religion into their own hands; they may appoint teachers in every State, county and parish and pay them out of their public treasury; they may take into their own hands the education of children, establishing in like manner schools throughout the Union; they may assume the provision of the poor; they may undertake the regulation of all roads other than post-roads; in short, every thing, from the highest object of state legislation down to the most minute object of police, would be thrown under the power of Congress.... Were the power of Congress to be established in the latitude contended for, it would subvert the very foundations, and transmute the ver

  • findoutthefacts Apr 1, 2010

    "Because by the time a middle class family pays for the evaluations and therapies their child needs, they are now low income."

    And that's part of the downfall of having a child with autism...and I would have to evaluate if the family has cut all they could from their own lives before I would feel obligated to help. If they have all the same luxuries that everyone else is "entitled" to, then they would have to deal with not having those things first.

  • hardwork919 Apr 1, 2010

    "hardwork: I have a daughter in high school sports and a cousin in high school sports (2 different schools). They have already cut transportation for most sports....we have to get our kids to their away games ourselves. Even middle school cheerleaders are not allowed to go to away games...they have been cutting costs, and to be honest with you...each school gets a lot less for funding the athletic dept than you think. They do not even get enough funding to propoerly take care of protective football equipment. This is why they are constantly raising money in the boosters for the athletic dept (music depts too). I have to pay $325 just for my child to be in the high school band because there is NO funding for the arts anymore." lyteoflife

    I did not realize things had gotten that bad... some people might consider it wasteful but I wouldn't have traded my experience in HS athletics for anything in this world.

  • NoFreakinWay Apr 1, 2010

    $6,000: reduction in purchase of new books and computers. "Current inventory is sufficient."
    $4,000: elimination of printing a brochure
    $3,000: reduction in dollars to replace furniture
    $2,500: reduction in professional development

    REALLY????? Who thinks this is going to even scratch the surface?????? Take off your belts and take out your wallets, otherwise 1000+ teachers are gone next year and 30+% of the bus fleet. Fuel is about to surge back to 4+ a gallon and cutting a 4,000$ brochure is nothing except a laugh. Sit back if you like, but watch what is about to happen to this county, you're not going to like it. We might even have to close a few schools like other parts of the country! Cut a $4,000 brochure, give me a break.