HCS’ tot program expanding

-A A +A

Two additional preschool classrooms to open in spring

By Kelly Cantrall

More students than ever will be able to attend preschool at Hardin County Schools.

The HCS board approved creation of two Preschool Readiness Academy classrooms, which would serve students who don’t qualify for state-funded preschool. The district is trying to reach as many 3- and 4-year-old children as possible to prepare them for kindergarten.

The additional classrooms open in the spring semester.

Superintendent Nannette Johnston said it’s essential to give children a good start to their education.

“I cannot even express how excited I am,” she said.

District officials would love to see universal preschool implemented, said Carlena Sheeran, HCS director of early childhood education. Until that is possible, the district has been looking for opportunities to expand the preschool program.

Public preschool is available for 3- and 4-year-olds with disabilities and 4-year-olds can attend if their family’s income is up to 150 percent of the federal poverty level. HCS officials are hoping to reach students who are close to these requirements but don’t quite meet them.

HCS’ preschool program screens several hundred children a year and many fall into “gray” areas, Sheeran said. In some cases, she said the child’s family makes a little too much money or there are no identifiable disabilities despite parental concerns about their development.

One classroom will be  at North Park Elementary School on Logsdon Parkway in Radcliff and one at Heartland Elementary School off Ring Road in Elizabethtown. Classes will operate just like others in the district.

The early childhood department will offer the program to families whose children already have been screened and were close to qualifying, she said. In the past six months, that would include 60 to 70 children, she estimated.

The classrooms will use about $100,000 of the district’s Title I federal money to implement for a year. Beyond that, its existence depends on continued availability of that money.

Kelly Cantrall can be reached at (270) 505-1747 or kcantrall@thenewsenterprise.com.