Early-education program affected by Wake job cuts

Posted April 21, 2010

— Among the casualties of Tuesday's layoffs in the Wake County Public School System were nine long-time counselors who work with the county's Project Enlightenment.

For nearly 40 years, the program has helped pre-school students and their parents address behavioral, social and other needs so that children are ready for kindergarten.

Budget cuts will affect Wake intervention program Budget cuts will affect Wake intervention program

Deborah Jeffress spent 33 years with the program and planned to retire this summer.

"That was really hurtful to learn that I'm not allowed back in the building, and my e-mail has been wiped out," she said Wednesday.

Her job was among 68 filled positions in the district's Central Services department that the school board voted 7-1 to eliminate Tuesday night, saving the board an estimated $4 million.

The school system is facing at least a $20 million shortfall in the budget for the 2010-11 fiscal year. An additional $20 million to $34 million could still be cut, depending on how much funding the state allocates to the school system.

Jeffress said that she understands the school board faces a tough budget but believes the early-intervention program is the wrong place to cut funds.

"We save the school money, because there are many children out there who may have needed to repeat kindergarten that won't because they are doing well now," Jeffress said.

Board member John Tedesco was the only member who voted against the cuts.

"I would rather see us trim more of the fat out of our central administration and keep more of the dollars in our classrooms and show our commitment to our children in the community to protect those intervention services and those special-needs kids," he said Tuesday.

Even those who voted for it said they believe it was necessary but painful.

"We're now getting into, really, the quality of the system and what we, as a community, have come to expect and almost take for granted," said board member Keith Sutton, who also chairs the board's Finance Committee. "We need to maintain that, and we can't if we keep chipping away and chipping away at that core."


This story is closed for comments.

Oldest First
View all
  • AWakeMom Apr 23, 2010

    Why not drug test every employee for drug use, including pot. Those who test positive, can them, then restructure employees that way.

  • Gen1 Apr 22, 2010

    We need to cut more from the free babysitting programs. Most cannot actually teach the children they serve just feed and babysit while the parent sits at home and produces more. And before the bleeding hearts set in on me. I worked there and have seen it for myself. Some of them come in to bring their children dressed to a "T" and their kids look like they have been thrown away and the parent is on every welfare program that exist and is talking about a new program they have found out about to get more and do less.

  • GALNC Apr 22, 2010

    I am no Tedesco fan either..since this board job is obviously a stepping stone for his future political career...but I have to agree with his vote on this issue. I have used Project Enlightenment and they do provide programs to help children in the public school system through early identification and support for learning disabilities. This is a critical program that will save money. However, we continue to waste money on WCPSS Staff, attendance officers to sign people in/out..multiple Wake County BOE positions etc. We need to protect the teachers and those who provide added assistance to what should be our core concern the students. Instead, we are taking away needed support tools which help to develop our students and provide support to aid in their educational development.

  • FitnessMan Apr 21, 2010

    why don't we just cut all school programs, teachers, and let a tape recorder teach them. Enough is Enough already with this. I know the economy is bad, then the great Governor (who has a great a chance of getting re-elected as I do) etc, needs to figure out where to find money. I have never been part of a protest, but I might get out there for the education program and say NO MORE CUTS TO THE SCHOOL SYSTEM. The level of education is going down. CUT THE NUMBER OF SCHOOL DAYS THIS YEAR BY A WEEK OR TWO. What is better 180 days with to few teachers, to many students per class, less programs, etc or 170 days with plenty of teachers, more individual help, full staff, support ETC. They keep saying tough times call for tough measures, so cut the darn 180 school days this year and keep teachers, etc to teach our kids.

  • larky74406 Apr 21, 2010

    I took some classes there, definitely a good resource.

  • kidsnbooks Apr 21, 2010

    It sounds like all of you have perfect children who have never needed any kind of help for any reason. The counselors at Project deal with families who are struggling with children who have ADD, ADHD, autism, physical disabilites, mental challenges, and other issues that are hard to deal with in busy public school classes. Project is also a wonderful resource for books about raising children. They have classes that anyone can take and there is always someone available to answer the tough question about your child that no one else seems to have a good answer to.
    If these cuts to Project continue, it will be a major loss to our public school system.

  • john283594 Apr 21, 2010

    WCPSS has too many layers of management...and they have this sense of entitlement. I agree with Tedesco cut the central administration and leave the teachers be.

  • DontLikeTheSocialistObama Apr 21, 2010

    Typical government cost cutting to get the voters to support higher taxes.

    Instead of making major cuts in the bloated administration building on Wake Forest Road, they cut a needed program.

    Just typical.

    The bureaucracy protects itself while cutting a needed program.

  • Krimson Apr 21, 2010

    Tarheelskier and GWally:

    Since raising kids to be ready for kindergarten is the parents responsibility, what should we do with the children of irresponsible parents??? I'd like to hear your solution to getting those children ready to be a productive member of society, since their own parents are unwilling to do so. Thanks.

  • Adelinthe Apr 21, 2010

    personal - "Start with those who are double dipping, or are politically protected in Central Office that only administrate their pet projects/programs."


    Cut Bev's trips overseas and to other states for a while. That'll pay for it.

    I know she "says" she's trying to solicit business for NC, but when I can't afford to go anywhere, I stay home.

    Don't ya'all?

    God bless.