Poplar Bluff School District adding preschool program

Poplar Bluff School District adding preschool program

POPLAR BLUFF, MO (KAIT) - The Poplar Bluff School District is planning to add a preschool program thanks to a grant.

The school received a $250,000 grant from the Missouri Preschool Program that will allow the Early Childhood Center to enroll 60 students and employ 6 staff members.

The school will have 3 classrooms.

They plan for the preschool to be open by September 21.

That is pending licensing by the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services.

Enrollment will take place on a first-come, first-serve basis.

Cost of tuition will be set on a sliding scale based on income levels used for the free and reduced lunch program.

“Studies have shown over the years that when students enter kindergarten, there is a marked difference in skill levels from students who have or have not participated in preschool education,” Early Childhood Center Director Joanne Westbrook said. “Currently our highly qualified staff at Early Childhood is only able to serve a fourth of our kids entering the Kindergarten Center.”
Westbrook has been employed by the school district since 20015.
She is the person who wrote the grant proposal.
For the needs assessment component of the proposal, she enlisted AmeriCorps Director Becky Winters to create an advisory committee made up of parents, educators, child care providers, civic leaders, officials from the social services sector and members of the faith-based community.
“When students do not receive that jumpstart on their academic careers at an early age, they’re more likely to wind up in remedial programs in the upper grades,” Winters said. “In recent years, the community has lost multiple child care facilities for different reasons and our committee wants to help fill that void.”
According to their research, 568 district children are not receiving a preschool education.
The area child care facilities available are presently serving 610 children with only 36 openings.
Poplar Bluff was one of 20 schools the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education announced would be awarded the five-year MPP grant.
The money will go toward start-up costs with the goal of self-sustainability upon conclusion.
By year 4, the preschools will be accredited through the National Association for the Education of Young Children.
A waiting list is currently being compiled at the Early Childhood Center located at 1235 North Main Street.
 For consideration, a child must be 3 years of age, but not older than 5 as of July 31.
For more information, call 573-785-6803.

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