According to McCreary County School District Officials, students attending McCreary County Pre-School will have the benefit of additional instructional time with a new scheduling change that will initiate a full-day – twice a week attendance plan.
Instead of half-day sessions, as had been typical in the past, this year students will be attending either a Monday/Wednesday or Tuesday/Thursday session, starting at 8:05 a.m. and ending at 3:05 p.m.
Just last year school officials altered the pre-school plan, moving the classrooms out of the outdated facilities adjacent to Pine Knot Intermediate School and in to self-contained classrooms at Whitley City Elementary and Pine Knot Primary schools.
Assistant Superintendent Aaron Anderson stated the move is a direct result of a statewide decrease in pre-school funding and an increase in enrolment due to the extra classroom capacity from the move.
“In the 2015-16 school year the McCreary County School District was allocated $834,099.00 for preschool,” Anderson said. ‘For the 2016-2017 school year we were allocated $771,840.50.”
“During the initial summer planning phases for the McCreary County Preschool program we discovered that the decrease in funding of $62,258.50 would leave us short at least one teacher and one instructional aide.”
“With over 200 students already registered for preschool, the d
District was faced with the dilemma of how to provide an additional teacher to service those student in our preschool program. As we combed through the budget and analyzed expenses, a cost analysis revealed that we could save approximately $150,000.00 in fuel and bus related expenses by eliminating our middle route, which was necessary to run the current program design of four day a week AM/PM session.”
Anderson went on to explain the students would benefit from additional instructional time due to eliminating lost time from transition times seen during the half-day sessions.
While some parents may find the changes difficult to handle, Anderson urges patience, noting the state is looking at expanding pre-school sessions to full-day in the near future.
“Anytime we have to experience change it does take some time to get used to,” he said. “However, moving to this type of schedule has allowed us to financially support the program and as funding becomes available we ultimately hope to move the preschool program to a full day four days a week program, which is the ultimate goal for all preschool programs across the state.”
Superintendent Mike Cash supported the move, noting the money saved by eliminating the middle of the day bus route allows the District to focus on providing quality education to all students.
“By moving to a full day schedule we can eliminate that expense and direct that funding back where it needs to be – instruction for the students,” he said.
The budget cuts experienced in districts throughout the state was to fund a new grant program – the Preschool Partnership Grant.
Approximately $7 million was put in reserve to fund the program, which was designed to “incentivize cooperative public/private partnerships between public school districts and child care providers to develop full-day, high-quality programs for at-risk children.”
According to the Kentucky Department of Education, the incentive grant program represents an opportunity for school districts and child care providers to improve the quality of services in their communities. The McCreary County School District is actively pursuing the Tier 2 Implementation model, which if awarded would provide up to $150,000.00 to the District to fund preschool, but any funding from that program would not be realized until sometime next year.
Kentucky’s preschool education programs are available for all four-year-old children whose family income is not more than 160% of poverty. In addition, all three and four-year-old children with developmental delays and disabilities, regardless of income, are also eligible for preschool.