House committee reduces Parents as Teachers state aid by $200,000

TOPEKA (KSNT) — Thousands of parents across Kansas got a “win” Thursday night as a state legislative committee backed off plans to cut a popular program in half.

It’s the Parents as Teachers program and after a week of intense lobbying by parents and school districts that committee met at the statehouse Thursday to reconsider its cuts.

State lawmakers spent 2 hours deciding whether to cut $7.2 million from the education program.

Their decision would ultimately affect some 3,000 children in just the Topeka School District. The Parents as Teachers program serves more than 10,000 children.

It helps their parents prepare the toddlers for school and life. Yet last week the house committee voted to cut funding to the program in half. More than $7 million.

Parents with children in the program where furious. And lobbied the legislature to change its mind, which it did Thursday.

“I knew a lot of people where confused about what had really happened,” said Rep. Barbara Ballard, (D) Lawrence.

Representative Barbara Ballard says by shuffling money between various accounts they were able to cover all but $200,000.

Those who administer the program say lawmakers made the right move.

“It’s in early childhood where education and where their experiences lie in order to get them ready,” said Nancy Keel, Exec. Dir. Kansas Parents as Teacher Organization.

Parents say this is not a victory for them but their kids.

“As a first time parent it is valuable to have someone who can say you’re doing this well,” said Jill Adams, parent.

Lawmakers hope to develop a reading program with the money that was taken from Parents as Teachers.

The funding plan approved Thursday will now be incorporated into the overall state budget. That’s not expected to be approved for several weeks.

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