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HCS preparing new preschool rooms for January

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By Kelly Cantrall

It’s been a busy winter break for early childhood educators in Hardin County Schools, as they’re expanding their program by two classrooms in the middle of the school year.

The department will open the rooms in just a few weeks, after the new program was approved by the HCS board in December.

HCS will expand its program to students who don’t meet state requirements to receive public pre-school services, and plans to begin educating students in just a few weeks. The goal is to have children in classrooms Jan. 21, said Carlena Sheeran, HCS director of early childhood education.

“We were just trying to get it started as quickly as possible,” she said.

One classroom is at Heartland Elementary School and the other is at North Park Elementary School. The Preschool Readiness Academy primarily will serve students who are close but don’t quite meet state preschool guidelines.

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.

Two teaching positions are posted, and Sheeran and her staff have mailed letters to families whose children are close to meeting the guidelines.

“We’ve had very positive feedback for that,” she said.

Sheeran said there are many facets to preparing for new preschool students and classrooms, including regulations regarding the classroom environment, implementing curricula and doing home visits with new students.

The program is funded through the rest of the year through federal Title I money, and Sheeran will apply for more soon in hopes of continuing the program next school year.

The program can have as many as 80 children enrolled.

Sheeran said there’s a great need for these services and she’s glad to see the district will be able to provide them. It’s been a goal for a long time.

“Mentally, we were ready,” she said of getting the program started. “Really I didn’t want to put it off any longer.”

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