Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Even HOPE is cutting back

Deal unveils cuts for HOPE, pre-K

The AJC is reporting that the lottery funded HOPE scholarship is not able to keep up with rising tuition costs. Therefore, the decision has been made to cut back a bit on HOPE scholarships and make the requirements more stringent.

Gov. Nathan Deal on Tuesday unveiled sweeping cuts to the popular scholarship program, many of which could kick in as early as fall.

A major change would cut scholarships for potentially 180,000 of Georgia's 200,000 HOPE scholars to 90 percent of current tuition levels -- a move that has current and future students mulling their finances, and, some feeling short-changed.

If the cuts are passed it means a HOPE recipient would have to come up with hundreds of dollars to cover tuition and mandatory fees now covered by the scholarship. For example, a HOPE scholar at the University of Georgia would have to pay $353 out-of-pocket to cover a semester's tuition based on today's rates. Additionally, that student would have to find a way to pay for more than $400 in mandatory fees per semester for services such as transportation, health care and student activities. Tuition and fees for next academic year could increase, which would raise even further what students would pay.

The change will take effect this fall and will effect all students, even those currently enjoying a 100% HOPE scholarship.

Another AJC article, called Drastic cuts unveiled for HOPE, pre-K gives a bit more detail.

Only the brightest of college students – those with at least a 3.7 high school GPA – will see HOPE cover all tuition, Gov. Nathan Deal said Tuesday morning as he released a drastic plan to cut escalating costs to the popular lottery-funded program.

For those earning at least a 3.0, the scholarship will cover at most 90 percent.

As for pre-K, parents will see the free program cut from 6 ½ hours to four, Deal said, adding that the change will allow the state to open more slots to the program.

"We're taking action today to strengthen the HOPE balance sheet," Deal said, as he stood before a podium that read: Enduring HOPE.

Deal released his proposal at Georgia State University’s student center, with students mixed in with the media. He shared the podium with representatives from both parties. The changes, he said, would save about $300 million.

There are multiple other changes for HOPE, most of which go into effect this fall:
  • Decouples from tuition. Students earning at least a 3.0 will see the scholarship cover 90 percent of current fiscal year 2011 tuition rates.
  • Ties future scholarship amounts to lottery revenue, not tuition rates.
  • Cuts private college award from $4,000 to $3,600.
  • Creates the Zell Miller Scholarship. Students with at least a 3.7 GPA and 1200 SAT or 26 on ACT will get full tuition at public colleges and $4,000 to private colleges. Students will need to maintain a 3.5 to keep the scholarship.
  • Eliminates money for books or mandatory fees.
  • Caps payout to 127 hours for HOPE scholarship and 63 semesters for the HOPE grant. Students will a post-secondary degree will be ineligible for the technical grant.
  • Requires high school students to take "rigorous" classes to qualify for HOPE. This will begin this fall with incoming high school freshmen.


Anonymous said...

How does everyone feel about Dekalb County dicontinuing Pre-K in the schools? This will really be their only logical option now that Deal is planning to cut Pre-K from a 6.5 hour to a 4 hour day.

Anonymous said...

I think DCSS is going to be in an interesting position on this one.

Having HOPE just part time will force a two tier pay scale, something the BOE clearly wanted to avoid last year. (The reimbursement for the para position in pre-k from the state is FAR less than what DCSS pays.)

However, there will be plenty of people willing to work part time. It should be interesting to see what the system decides.

Anonymous said...

Puzzles me why they just didn't go to a means test for qualification. Lots of children of doctors and lawyers taking advantage of free pre-K at schools like OG and Vanderlyn. That seems like a waste of taxpayer money. Better to let low income children have the benefit of a steady, well run early education that they otherwise would not have.

Anonymous said...

Discontinue and make room in our over crowded elementary schools. We can't afford to pay the huge difference.

Anonymous said...

I think discontinuing Pre-K is a great idea. The one much cited Georgia State study did not prove that Pre-K improved student achievement, and if you read it closely it was most clearly not a definitive endorsement of Pre-K. Pre-K has had 20 years to prove its efficacy. I had great hope for it, but the research has shown it to be effective.

DCSS has poured precious education dollars into Pre-K teaching salaries (the state has only paid a fraction of their cost), facilities cost (the state has never paid for the percentage of facilities taken up by Pre-K), and the benefits portion of Pre-K. DCSS has been on the hook for millions in Pre-K funding over what the state has reimbursed taxpayers.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 8:30- I agree 100%. I just hope that DCCS will announce their decision about Pre-K ASAP and well before Lottery Day on April 14. I also pray that they will play fair and keep Pre-K teachers/paras employed next year in other positions. It is not fair to leave these highly qualified professionals without employment just because they happen to be in the wrong gradea at the wrong time. Last year, Pre-K teachers did not get contracts until a month after all other teachers (regardless of tenure or job performance).

Anonymous said...


I meant to say:
"I had great hope for it, but the research has NOT shown it to be effective."

Anonymous said...

Millions and millions spent on the Pre-K program. DCSS should have let the private daycare centers handle this for all these years (most other systems have). The private daycare centers use teachers certified in Early Childhood the same as DCSS - they just don't cost DCSS anything since the teachers get paid by the state - no extra stipends from the local systems like DCSS.

Move on and let this program go. The state won't even reimburse DCSS for the facilities. We don't get any credit as far as these students even being counted in our per school counts by the state.

Anonymous said...

Good decision from the State in lieu of the financial situation. At this age, four hours is quality teaching, six hours is free daycare.


Anonymous said...

8:45 There are plenty of teachers who would love a part time position. Sticking these teachers in "other positions" to be fair to them, isn't fair to the tax payers footing the bill. DCSS pays the Pre-K teacher and para more than the state gives DCSS for these positions. DCSS is not an employment center, and should not worry about the teachers when making their decisions about what to do with pre-K.

Given the current economic climate, DCSS cannot afford to keep pre-K in the schools and spend extra money on a program that private centers can and will do, so that we can conserve the funds that we have for k-12th grade.

Another option would be to hire a teacher full time and have that teacher teach a 4 hour am class and a 4 hour pm class. Not sure if this would work with the state funds, but our schools are close enough that we could do it at one school, freeing up classroom space at another over crowded school or have teachers commute between schools. This second option would enable us to keep pre-K and only have to pay health benefits for half the number of employees. It would also cut back on money needed for salaries.

Although if the teachers are hired for part time work, would we need to offer them benefits such as health insurance?

Anonymous said...

Fulton took PreK teachers and other staff salaries back to the state reimbursed level last year. Pre-K teachers no longer are on the Fulton County salary scale. Why can't Dekalb do this? Also eliminate PreK in overcrowded schools!

Anonymous said...

Hope is not taxpayer money...it's lottery money.

Anonymous said...

Interestingly enough, I live in the Oak Grove, Lavista area, I don't think there is enough private centers at all in this area. Some churches have 2-3 classes but there is not alot of daycare in this area at all. We saw this one church shut it's daycare/preschool doors. The 5-6 school in this area provide for 100-120 students to receive prek services that wouldn't be able to afford private prek. What about asking the parents to pay a small tuition to keep the kids in the school house past the noon hour?

Anonymous said...

I pray that we can keep full time Pre_K in Dekalb. In my area it has helped immencely.The lottery is primarily funded by low and middle class folk looking for some HOPE and Luck.
I am sorry but Head Start is a farce but is federally funded.
Dekalb test scores are already low especially in low income areas. These parents can't afford to pay for pvt. pre-k nor half day childcare.
I would hate to see children coming to school again without any pre-school experience. That is what will happen because parents will be forced to leave the child with grandma or neighbors.
Deal is not a supporter of Education. Look at his pet projects being funded and all of his family and friends being added to the State payrollincluding his failed son-in law. Family and friends goes STATWIDE!

Anonymous said...

Come Board of Ed. Raise my taxes, I am retired but would support a half day lottery program and a half day DeKalb Pre-K. then Pre-K could be more academic under DeKalb's control.

Anonymous said...

Anon 12:18 - How can you make a statement that Gov. Deal does not support education simply because he is trying to keep the HOPE program financially balanced?

Pre-K? It was never anything more than free babysitting anyway.

Anonymous said...

Fulton took PreK teachers and other staff salaries back to the state reimbursed level last year. Pre-K teachers no longer are on the Fulton County salary scale. Why can't Dekalb do this? Also eliminate PreK in overcrowded schools

As someone who sat through all the budget hearings last year, I can tell you that while the Para salaries were out of line with the state reimbursement for Pre-K, the teacher salaries were not.

The bureaucrats and the board of DCSS were reluctant to have a two tier system within the same school. In other words, the para for pre-k makes X while the para for kindergarten makes Y in classrooms next to each other. The difference was significant.

Anonymous said...

Great news for taxpayers! Dekalb commissioners voted yesterday 5-2 to NOT raise property taxes and to make cuts.

As for the Hope scholarship, this is the right thing to do. What I found most amusing about the whole thing was that the Hope was paying for "remedial" classes! What a joke. Only the best and brightest should get the scholarship. Making qualifications more stringent is the right way to go!
Good news all around.

Anonymous said...

The hope takes money from lower income people, it there way of paying income tax. The people who play the lottery are low income, most are on welfare. People who work hard for there money wouln't waste it on a lottery.This lottery is just the governments way of making sure everybody pays taxes. Rich and poor.

Leo said...

If you drop to a 4 hour day, how does transportation work if you keep the program in the school system? Pre-K students can currently ride the bus, but to have to send them home early would mean another round of bus routes, hardly economical or environmentally sound. I'm a big proponent of Pre-K simply because it means fewer students who are behind and need more attention and the K level (at the outset of K this year, my daughter knew all of her letters, numbers, and could write all of them and was starting to learn sight words -- she was far ahead of others in her class who K was their first year of school). As if we didn't need more decisions from DCCS! I hope that knowing the direction the state may be headed with respect to Pre-K will have them seriously consider whether to outsource the program and or fund the remaining school hours. And to ensure that enough private quality care exists should it be outsourced, they need to decide sooner rather than later -- I think you'd see more opportunities open up in areas where there is little opportunity now if there was a high demand and funding coming from the state.

Anonymous said...

DCSS would not be the outsourcer, the state is who actually manages the programs.

DeKalb County already has the highest number of students on the wait list for Pre-K slots of any county in the state.

If DCSS shuts down the program this has huge implications for the state pre-k folks.

Anonymous said...

Apparently you want a babysitter for your child at taxpayer expense.
Also, it is not the job of Dekalb county to ensure that private facilities exist. That's a job for the free market.
Also, how could any decent parent put their pre-K child on a school bus?
Why did you even have a child if you expect the government to take care of him/her?

Anonymous said...

Anon 8:27 your statement says that children of educated financially sound parents are brillant at age 4and should be allowed to attend free PreK and children from poor families are dumb so only they should gain access to another free gov't. program for their offspring. HOPE is one program that those who pay the majority of taxes in this country can participate equally as well as those that suck of the teat of the government.

Anonymous said...

Should say and NOT be allowed to attend free PreK

Anonymous said...

Ok. Elementary schools get ready and pay special attention.-Some parents may falsify documents and try to enroll their kids in kindergarten to avoid the half day prek. Your keen eye is needed. This happened when prek started and demand was great and still happens.
It is so funny when I as a kindergareten teacher tell one of my students happy 6th birthday- assuming he was five already- and he proudly answers with the biggest smile ever-- I am only five. I respond-"Sweety-are you sure?"- and he responds-well,my mom made a cake this weekend for me and it had 5 candles on it.

I had suspicions but some people are expert liars.

At this point, you ask for original documents again and take a closer look ....

Anonymous said...

9:55, take your mean spirit somewhere else.

Who is sucking at the government teat around here? A lot of your "educated financially sound" parents: besides our DCSS teachers, there are CDC disease detectives, medical researchers at Emory who rely on NIH grants, doctors who treat Medicare patients, high-tech researchers whose work at GTRI is funded by the DoD, and the staff at the IRS service center.

Who is not sucking from the government teat? Maybe the workers at Wal-Mart or Kroger. I'm happy for them to have free pre-K.

Anonymous said...

Is anyone else appalled by Gov. Deal's HOPE plan to recruit students who can't keep a 3.0 average to be our future math and science teachers? Everyone loves to complain about how we are falling behind in math and science education -- how does our Governor think that is going to improve when he plans to scrape the bottom of the intelligence barrel for instructors in these subjects?!

Anonymous said...

Sorry. I guess I posted under the wrong topic so here it is under the correct topic:

My child along with others was picked up from Briarlake by the YMCA van. They drove to the Y about a mile away and there was an after school program there I paid for. I was a teacher, but I didn't get out of work until 4 or 5 every day. I went to the YMCA and picked him up from the daycare group (he was in Kindergarten - no Pre-K at that time). Before that, he was in a daycare center from age 2 to 5 when he went to Kindergarten. I'm assuming most Pre-K students get picked up like that now and go to after school daycare. Most parents do not get off work at 2:30 to pick up their kids so I don't see what the big deal is.

DCSS shouldn't be in the Pre-K business at all. Most of the other counties have ceded the Pre-K program to the private day care centers. All of the day care centers that run state funded pre-K programs have the same certified teachers DCSS has - absolutely no difference in certification. The difference is that in Pre-K programs run in the day care centers, no local taxpayer dollars in the form of extra stipends goes to the Pre-K teachers - they are paid the state base for their degrees and years of experience. The state is completely responsible for the benefits as well so DCSS is not on the hook for that (they get state health benefits, etc. through the state - not through DCSS). Lastly, DCSS is not penalized for the classrooms that the Pre-K program takes up in terms of space. We are not given any credit for the number of Pre-K students - a matter of huge concern as we are having to consolidate small schools.

It seems private day care centers providing Pre-K would also preclude the use of vans to pick the students up and take them to daycare. Once the state funded 4 hours of Pre-K ended, the students would already be on the daycare premises.

I can see why the other more efficient systems turned Pre-K over to the private day care facilities a long time ago.

The students will have the same certified teachers, but DCSS could pour those millions into remedial classes and smaller classes for struggling learners.

Leo said...

@ Anonymous 9:29
You know nothing about me and are completely off-base on all of your points. In fact, my oldest went to private pre-k that I paid for and I've registered my child who will be in pre-k next year for the same program. Their program is a shorter day (only 3 hours each day), which I personally feel is more appropriate for the age group. I also have a full-time nanny for our baby, as both my husband and I work full time, so I don't need government daycare, but currently, the system allows pre-k kids to ride the bus. If DCCS kept these programs in school, which I'm not saying they should necessary do, reducing the day adds another transportation cost if they continue to offer transportation as part of the program. My kids are fairly independent. I'd absolutely let my pre-k student ride the bus home with his older sister if they were at the same school. It's all just part of what needs to be considered. The state offers the program, but changing the lenght of the day may result in a variety of issues that our county needs to address.

And, if you read my post, I agree that the free market will come in and provide services so long as it is given enough time to do so -- you can't just add a pre-k program in a few weeks as it requires licensing and certifications to qualify under the state system, so I was merely stating that DCCS needs to consider the possiblity that there may be changes and make a decision as to how it will handle the program so that all contigencies may be accounted for.

Anonymous said...

Lottery should be shut down. It is only a scheme of the govt. to take poor peoples welfare check.

These are the same parents who cannot even speak proper English.

I love the idea to not let people who work and pay taxes send there kids to pre K? What are they thinking? That is a typical person who has been brainwashed by our govt.

They think if I do not work, I get everything free from the govt. But if i do work and pay in taxes, I get Nothing...Nice.Sounds like most of South DeKalb thinks this way...

Anonymous said...

"DeKalb County already has the highest number of students on the wait list for Pre-K slots of any county in the state."

This kind of fits an earlier post on another thread in which DeKalb is called the "Gimmee County". A lot of people looking for free day care.

Anonymous said...

Could be -- or it could be that in numbers, DCSS has the highest number of poor children in the metro area and far more children period than counties outside of Metro Atlanta.

In my area, which is one of the most affluent in DeKalb, there won't be the capacity to absorb the children who normally would attend pre-k. The church preschools simply don't have the additional classrooms and we have only one or two private day cares.

Anonymous said...

"There are plenty of teachers who would love a part time position. Sticking these teachers in "other positions" to be fair to them, isn't fair to the tax payers footing the bill. DCSS pays the Pre-K teacher and para more than the state gives DCSS for these positions. DCSS is not an employment center, and should not worry about the teachers when making their decisions about what to do with pre-K."

The Pre-K teachers that work in Dekalb county schools are certified employees. They were all hired as full time teachers- NOT as PRE-K only teachers. I'm sure that most people who read this blog would agree that it would be wrong to just lay off teachers that are unfortunate enough to be teaching at a school that is scheduled to close next year. Likewise, it would be unfair to lay off Pre-K teachers just because the program is closing. All of these teachers are qualified to teach any grade P-5 and some are qualified to do more.
I do agree with you that the program should be cut from the schools if Pre-K days are cut to 4 hours. It just won't be feasible or economical to keep it in the public schools under this model. Eliminating Pre-K from the public schools will save money and free up classrooms for other grades. However, just because Pre-K is eliminated doesn't mean that hard working teachers should be eliminated with the program.

Anonymous said...

It is not the school districts responsibility to give pre-K to the children. Only 18 kids per school are served anyway. It does not seem like a good use of financial resources to keep the program going.

More pre-schools will pop up if the county stops offering pre-K. DeKalb does not have many good options for daycare or pre-K in general. Maybe more schools and churches will look into offering the state funded pre-K if the county gets out of the pre-K business.

When one thinks of the extra expense of a bus to take the kids home earlier or extra expense of teacher salary to extend the day, this does not add up to a good use of tax payer funds.

Ella Smith said...

Pre-K programs are important in turning around our schools. However, this does not mean that they have to be a part of the school systems.

I remember when the Pre-K or Head Start Programs in many states were only a 1/2 day and the teachers had two different classes come in and the teacher worked the entire day. Now I am really telling my age. The buses ran twice a day.

Anonymous said...

Georgia needs to keep pre-K. Both my children went to pre-K at a private provider and it was an excellent experience. Kindergarten teachers can often tell which children went to pre-K as they are better adjusted socially and have learned basic letters, numbers, etc. For children from poverty, it also provides a balanced, nutrious meal. I found a private provider near my work and paid extra so my child could stay there in the afternoon while I worked.

However, given the difficulty of providing transportation in the middle of the day, I think DCSS should resign from the pre-K business. Perhaps DCSS could allow some private providers to lease space at a reasonable cost in one or two empty/decommissioned elementary schools?

Anonymous said...

@11:49. I saw this part about the loans for students who fall below 3.0 and yes, I am appalled. You would think that Deal would want to reward the best students and entice them to stay in the state and be middle and high school teachers.

Cerebration said...

Good idea 7:30. Lynn Jackson from the state DOE stated at her meeting with the DCSS board that the school system is allowed to turn unused buildings into Pre-K academies and suffer no "empty seat" consequences. (Pre-K students do not count for FTE credit, so the school system does not get state money for these children, other than the lottery. The balance of the cost is paid with general funds.)

This could be a wonderful option for some of the schools scheduled to close in Sarah's district. I would encourage people to suggest this to her.

Teaching Science in DCSS said...

Now with all the cutbacks in Headstart, it's more important than ever to fund pre-K. Education at this early age is one of the few measures that's been shown to pay off, even as far as 7th grade--based on evidence, this is the last thing that should be cut.

About the HOPE--a means test seems to me to make the best sense. There is a high correlation between family income and higher GPAs, so making GPA a criterion does not solve the problem of using the HOPE to extend college opportunities to lower-income kids.

And that's what we need to do. It seems that any measure that would financially penalize higher-earning families is bound to be trashed by voters. But better-off families are the very people who can--and should--pay more.

Why? Because education is an investment by all of us, for all of us. My husband and I sent our children to private schools, and we could say, well, we paid all those school taxes and what did we get? No school services, no free books, and on top of that, $18,000/year in tuition.

Here's what we got: we helped build a community that is better off because we helped fund it. Every dollar of our money that goes toward public education, has the potential to change the course of a future citizen's life. It's like health care: it's in the interest of all, to have most of us healthy, vaccinated, and with access to treatment. There is a common good out there, and we're all responsible for it.

We all pay for things we don't agree with and don't even like. Bad highways, poor public transportation, a postal service that leaves a lot to be desired, a military that doesn't do what we want, and certainly, our flawed schools. But the social contract is, we support institutions while trying to change them. Just don't throw the baby out with the bath where pre-K and the HOPE are concerned.

Anonymous said...

Pre-K is NOT free babysitting.

Anonymous said...

Here's the DCSS web page on pre k - looks like the lottery is on April 14th.


Ella Smith said...

Hope is a great program. I hate to see it getting cut back but this must be necessary at this point. My son is a senior in college and has used it through his 4 years. It definitely now does not cover all the expenses but it definitely helps a great deal financially for us as a family.

Hope has been a wonderful thing for our family and many more families. I think Hope should have nothing to do with a person's income but the student's grades. I am glad they are keeping it that way.

Anonymous said...

I would love to see a study of the long term successes of the HOPE program. How do students who attend GA colleges on HOPE compare with GA students who scrimp, save, and work to fund out-of-state college educations in terms of success in graduate schools and employment? I see too many kids at UGA, attending school on the HOPE scholarship, with fancy cars, designer clothes, Spring Breaks to Cancun, and cash to eat out every meal. What happens when these kids, who have never had to worry about money or responsibility, graduate college and hit "the real world." As an employer, I can say that these types of kids make terrible employees. They are immature and are still depending on mom and dad for handouts and advice compared to graduates who have been active participants in funding their educations. The kids in the latter group are more mature, hard working, and better at solving problem on their own, without texting mom and dad for advice. I would add that there is also great value to a student attending college farther away from home, where he/she can't run home every weekend to the comforts of mom and dad.

Anonymous said...

Like others have said, the PreK, at the school where he attended elementary school, was great for one of our kids.

We have two kids 14 months apart in age. One was lucky and WON the PreK lottery and the other had to do a private half day program. I can attest thew child that went to PreK at the elementary school was much better prepared for the total public elementary school experience, while the other took a half a year to adjust to the public school. However, it did not effect their grades at all. both kids are principal honor roll students and are in the discovery, high achiever and gifted programs. My feelings are mixed on this one, but the bottom line? DCSS MUST get their fiscal discipline in order first.

Anonymous said...

Hypothetical question

If the money tree grew $100 million extra and it ended up in for use in the hands of the current DCSS BOE and administration, do you think that there would be any improvement in education of the children?

Anonymous said...

@ Anonymous 10:24
"If the money tree grew $100 million extra and it ended up in for use in the hands of the current DCSS BOE and administration"

There is a money tree that dropped $128,000,000 on DCSS last year. It's listed under Federal Funds. Audria Berry who runs the DCSS Office of School Improvement (just the name of this office is an oxymoron) made the decisions on the expenditures of this money. The BOE approved her decisions.

Go to this link on the Georgia DOE website:
(Use the drop down All Districts menu to select DeKalb County and then click Revenue button and look a Federal Revenues)

This link shows that $128,000,000 or 14% of the DCSS budget in 2010 came from federal funds - up from $77,000,000 in 2009, and $50,000,000 in 2008.

We have seen a decrease in the percent of DCSS schools making AYP from 2008 to 2010.

Anonymous said...

AYP is an idiotic concept. Soon every school in DCSS will fail because the number of students who must pass in every subgroup including non English speakers is moving to 100% in yearly increments. So schools that made AYP last year or schools that make progress can actually fail to make AYP if they do not absolutely raise their scores every year by a set amount. We dream of Lake Woebegone where all the children are above average.

I am glad to know that the world is so simple. If we had only figured out that spending Title I money would make all those students who are on free and reduced lunch pass despite the fact that they have high absentee rates, come from families that don't have extensive education (or in many cases jobs), and often change schools and class rooms several times a year because their parents are transient.

Nationally, most Title I schools do not make AYP. However, in our county there are some like Knollwood (to name one) that do. Those schools' Title I funds are allocated and spent just like the schools that do not make AYP. Maybe we should look at what works at some schools and how we might make that work elsewhere.

Ella Smith said...

February 24, 2011 8:30 AM

How could you indicate that because student receive Hope that they are not actively involved in working to fund their daily expenses. They have housing expenses, food, and many other issues they have to deal with. Maybe some students are off on fancy vacations while others are not. Let's not sterotype here. Students have to work to keep the Hope scholarship also. Many people forget this. The students have to keep a B average. They have to be putting in some effort to have a B average in most of our colleges.

I respect the students who are keeping their B average and keeping the Hope Scholarship. The Hope Scholarship should not be based on money of the family but on the academic achievement of the student. Ther scholarship was earned.

Anonymous said...

Amen Ella! 8:30 am needs to get a clue. Just because my family takes a great annual vacation doesn't mean that my Dean's List, Georgia college student doesn't understand the rewards of hard work.