PETERBOROUGH — Superintendent Kimberly Rizzo Saunders would like to share an update on the district’s work to expand its preschool programs so that all students in the district have access to high quality, crucial early educational opportunities.
For the last few years, the district has been working to provide more opportunities for students to participate in preschool programs throughout the Contoocook Valley in order to meet the needs of families in the community, prepare young students for school through early intervention and implement key goals in the district’s strategic plan. Ultimately, the goal will be to provide preschool programs to all four-year-olds in the nine towns in the district.
The district has produced the following video showcasing the benefits of preschool for students:
According to data from the RAND Corporation, a research organization that helps to inform public policy decisions, preschool programs allow for more equity in learning for students across all income levels, and creates more school readiness as they enter kindergarten and beyond. To view the entire report, click here.
Creating more access to preschool programs for families in the district is part of ConVal’s long-term commitment to creating and adopting strategies that help support students in meeting their learning needs and goals. This includes more small-group or one-on-one instruction, additional resources to help students learning below their grade level and training teachers on research based techniques.
“We are strongly committed to providing our students with the best educational experience possible and know that starting their learning journey at a young age can help set them up for success,” Superintendent Rizzo Saunders said. “We will continue to explore all possible avenues to help us achieve this goal and share updates as we continue to review the feasibility of these options.”
At this time, preschool programs are available at three of the elementary schools in the district: Antrim Elementary School, Peterborough Elementary School and Greenfield Elementary School. Each consists of a teacher and two paraprofessionals as well as additional support staff who are shared among the entire preschool program. In all, there are approximately 24 three-year-olds and 28 four-year-olds participating in the half-day and full-day programs, respectively. All programs have waiting lists for three- and four-year-old students, who are offered spots based on a first come, first serve basis.
Already, the district has completed the first phase of its preschool for all initiative by creating full-day programs for four-year-old students. The goal for the 2021-22 school year is to build upon that success and expand the program further for families in the district.
“The hope is as we recover from the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, we’ll continue step by step until we reach the goal of preschool available for all,” Cari Christian-Coates, Director of Student Services, said. “Our goal is to reach the students that wouldn’t normally have an opportunity to attend preschool.”
The estimated financial impact of this next phase of the program would be $144,000, which would be used for program staffing and supplies.The funding is included in the proposed operating budget residents will consider at the upcoming district wide vote on March 9. More information about the budget can be found here.
The district will also be building up a Preschool for All planning committee to help with the planning and implementation of future phases of the program. Families from the district will be notified of how to participate and attend these meetings when information is available. Those interested in participating in the future can email Cari Christian-Coates at [email protected].
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