Pelham could vote on tax-funded reading program Sept. 20

By NEAL WAGNER / City Editor

The Pelham City Council could vote on a proposed tax dollar-funded preschool reading program as early as Sept. 20, after council members agreed to table discussion of the program during its Sept. 13 meeting.

The announcement came three weeks after many spoke against the Success by 6 program during a public forum at the Pelham Civic Complex.

If passed, Success by 6 would be a partnership between seven Pelham preschools, the Pelham Public Library, United Way, Valley Elementary School, the Linda Nolen Learning Center and the city.

Through the program, the preschools, Linda Nolen Learning Center and VES would focus on better preparing 4- and 5-year-olds to read before entering school.

The first year of the program would cost the city $250,000, and could be included in Pelham’s fiscal year 2011 budget, which begins Oct. 1, 2010.

Though the council was set to vote on the motion during its Sept. 13 meeting, Councilwoman Teresa Nichols, who originally proposed the project to the city, asked the council to table it until the Sept. 20 meeting.

Nichols said she plans to speak with Pelham residents and city officials before the next council meeting, and likely will bring a modified Success by 6 resolution before the council Sept. 20.

“We need more community input on this issue,” Nichols told the council. “There are a lot of misconceptions out there about this program.

“I’d like to bring it forward next week with amendments,” Nichols added. “Then we can do whatever we need to do with it.”

Though Nichols said the council could vote on the resolution Sept. 20, Councilman Steve Powell said he would not feel comfortable voting on an amended Success by 6 resolution until he had time to study the updated request.

“If the resolution is going to be amended, I think we should give not only the council, but the public a chance to review it and study it,” Powell said.

In other business, the council:

-Announced it will hold a special work session at 6:30 p.m. Sept. 17 at Pelham City Hall to discuss the city’s proposed fiscal year 2011 budget.

Pelham Mayor Don Murphy said he and the city’s department heads have spent more than two months creating the proposed “bare bones” budget to present to the council for its consideration.

“We worked it as lean as we possibly could without cutting personnel or service to our people,” Murphy said.

-Denied an Alcohol Beverage Control liquor license to the Atrevidos Night Club at 2969 Pelham Parkway.

-Unanimously passed a motion to install two additional streetlights in the Bear Holler subdivision.