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Chambersburg school board approves pre-K program

May 10, 2007|by DON AINES

CHAMBERSBURG, PA. - The Chambersburg School Board Wednesday approved a proposed all-day pre-kindergarten program that would run in partnership with Franklin County Head Start, but getting the four classes up and running by the start of the 2007-08 school year is dependent on the district receiving a state grant.

Regional Principal Paul Sick asked the board to authorize the district to apply to the Pennsylvania Department of Education for $484,000 in funding through the Pre-K Counts program. The board unanimously approved the request.

The application will be submitted to the state by May 25, and the grant could be approved by June, Sick said. However, the General Assembly has to first approve Gov. Ed Rendell's proposal to expand funding of the program, he said.

If the grant is approved, the district would have four pre-kindergarten classes, each with a maximum of 18 students. Two classrooms would be at Hamilton Heights Elementary School, one at Scotland and the fourth at a site yet to be determined that would not be in a school, Sick said.

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The classrooms in the schools would remain there until such time as the space is needed for regular classes, Assistant Superintendent Catherine Dusman said. Alternative sites would then be found for the Pre-K Counts classes, she said.

Head Start would provide the staffing for the program, because of its expertise, Sick said. The program would take in at-risk children, including those who are not currently eligible for Head Start because their household incomes are too high to qualify.

The program will provide them with "an early intervention preschool experience" that will give them the language, literacy and math skills they need to enter kindergarten on an equal footing with other students, he said.

Parents of pre-schoolers will be invited in to have their children assessed for the program, Head Start Executive Director Carol Sutton said.

The board also approved a "latchkey" program in association with the Chambersburg YMCA that will be in the Hamilton Heights Elementary School this fall. The program would provide before- and after-school care programs for students at Hamilton Heights from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m.

The YMCA already has a before-school care program serving Coldbrook, Buchanan and Stevens elementary schools, said Carla Christian, the YMCA's senior youth director. In that program, however, parents drop children off at the YMCA, and they are later taken to their schools.

The YMCA also has an after-school care program, which takes children from 13 of the district's 17 elementary schools to the YMCA where they are later picked up by parents or guardians, Christian said. Children would be provided with recreation, homework support, a healthy snack and other services, she said.

This will be the first latchkey program in a school. The proposed fees to parents would be $11.50 per day for those children getting both before- and after-school care and $9.50 for those requiring only after-school care.

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