PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. - If automatic budget cuts go through Congress on March 1st, Florida schools could lose more than $54 million in funding, and other educational programs could also lose millions.
Julie Lambert's ten-year-old son, Brendon, has been practicing for his FCAT test. Julie credits his good grades to an early learning pre-K program, Voluntary Pre-Kindergarten (VPK).
"It just lays a foundation," said Lambert. "So when they get to school, they're ready to absorb the information. They're not processing it for the first time."
Statewide, about 2,700 fewer spots could be available for pre-K programs.
Tony Loupe is the CEO of the Early Learning Coalition of St. Lucie County, which oversees those programs. Loupe said their budget has already been cut half a million.
"We're running as slim as we can right now," explained Loupe. "It's very hard to squeeze any more out of the budget than what we already have."
Loupe said if the sequester goes through, they will have to immediately cut $70,000-80,000 for this year, with even more possible cuts for their next fiscal year in July.
"Children will either not be able to enter our program, or, unfortunately, even be disenrolled from the program," said Loupe.
Lambert said she's always recommended early learning to parents with pre-schoolers.
But now, she's afraid that one day, there won't be any programs left.
"There's so much to think about when you're trying to get your child ready for school. The last thing you want to worry about is, is there going to be a place for him?" said Lambert. "That's just a recipe for disaster."
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