Wrong timing for reading project

A proposed tax dollar-funded preschool reading program in Pelham is the right thing at the wrong time.

Because the $250,000 the city would have to put up for the project next year would come at a time Pelham officials have been forced to cut city department budgets to the bone, we agree with those who spoke against the project during an Aug. 23 public hearing on the matter.

The Success by 6 project, which would help 4- and 5-year-olds develop stronger reading skills before entering public schools, is certainly a noble endeavor. Any project aimed at improving our schools and the lives of our students should be praised.

But when the project would force Pelham to bear more than 82 percent of the first-year cost, while the county has committed to less than 2 percent, it seems the load of Success by 6 is not evenly distributed.

Funding the project would also likely force the city to dip into its reserve funds during less-than-certain economic times.

“The first time you dip into the reserves for something like this, it’s hard. Then the second and third times are a little easier,” said Pelham Mayor Don Murphy. “By the fourth time, dipping into the reserves is your right.”

We agree with Murphy. Success by 6 is a wonderful program, but paying for it with reserve funds is simply the wrong thing at the wrong time.