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Haslam proposes to restore funding to Family Resource Centers

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We are so very thankful, said Denise McMillan, program supervisor for the Wilson County Schools Family Resource Center.

Family Resource Centers for the LSSD and county school system provide services for at-risk and underprivileged students. Programs the centers help coordinate include Backpack Programs that give students food to take home, free student/parent workshops covering topics from family finances to bullying, Internet safety, anger management and more.

The centers also partner with the community to host events, workshops and tutoring programs in conjunction with the Lebanon Housing Authority and Wilson County Civic League.

McMillan said the countys resource center feeds about 900 students every week through their Weekend Backpack Program, and Petty noted they feed about 300 students weekly.

Petty and McMillan indicated funds were cut back in 2011-2012, but the possibility of not receiving any funds this year put the centers personnel on pins and needles.

Last year we got a reduction, last year was the first year we didnt receive about $33,000 per site, Petty said.

Haslams original budget proposal cut the $3 million of state funding to centers across the state. However, David Smith, the governors press secretary, noted Haslam submitted the amendment to House Bill 3835 and Senate Bill 3768 to return funding to many core services.

Smith also said the centers received approximately $3 million from the state in the 2011-2012 fiscal year budget.

It is the state governments job to provide services that citizens cant get on their own, Haslam said. Our budget proposal earlier this year reflected a thoughtful and strategic process to allocate taxpayer dollars to serve Tennesseans in the most customer-focused, efficient and effective way possible.

Smith said the Family Resource Centers depend on funding from the state as well as local funds from school districts, but indicated the state funds come as grants, requiring local matches.

I would have lost a full time veteran educator if the funding had been lost, McMillan said.

She pointed out their state funds pay for personnel and anything else comes through fundraising and donations. Petty also said the loss of state funds would have ultimately lead to the loss of programs through personnel cuts.

This proposed restoration of state level funding would probably allow us to keep our fulltime assistant, Petty noted.

Since January, when Haslams initial proposal was made, McMillan and Petty said they have been contacting their state representatives asking for the funding to be restored.

The budget amendment requires the approval of the Tennessee General Assembly, and Petty said the funds are not secure until the legislators approve the budget amendment.

Its not a done deal yet, she said.

Staff Writer Patrick Hall may be contacted at

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