Program for Wake students facing uncertainty

WAKE COUNTY For 40 years, Project Enlightenment has provided thousands of Wake County students with early childhood education and their parents with much needed resources.

At a joint school board-county commissioner meeting on Wednesday, who'll continue to pay for it and provide its counseling services was up for debate.

"The bottom line, unfortunately, is again the budget," Wake County Commissioner Joe Bryan said. "We just do not have the resources that we've had in the past, so how do you meet a need, perhaps not at the same level and with less money."

Wake school board leaders back tracked on their recent decision to axe nine positions within the program and instead allow counselors with Wake County Human Services to take over.

"This isn't necessarily about spending more money as much as aligning the money we are spending a little more appropriately," Wake County School Board member John Tedesco said.

The school board has yet to make a final decision on what will happen next, but it's clear they want to save the program.

"Most if not all of us agree Project Enlightenment has a great reputation. It's done a great job," Wake County School Board Chair Ron Margiotta said.

Maintaining the program is the school board's new goal, but exactly how it will do it is unclear.

For some Wake school leaders turning to the county just isn't an option.

"Knowing the county commissioners fund us, it would seem inappropriate for us to write a check back to them to provide a service that we value when we were providing that service to a community partner," Tedesco said.

Both boards also discussed a new pilot program linking human services with education at so-called full service schools.

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