Home Mantua News Superintendent, board provides latest update on preschool program

Superintendent, board provides latest update on preschool program

Several positions were filled as the district completes steps to fully implement the program at Sewell Elementary School.


The Sun

The district’s newly expanded preschool program was a central topic of the Nov. 12 board of education meeting where board members heard kind words from preschool parents and provided updates to the public on the district’s progress.

Back in October, the Mantua Township School District was approved for the state grant totaling in $1.6 million for them to expand their preschool program from being partial-day, to full-day and offer it at no cost to eligible families or taxpayers, according to a statement released by the district on Oct. 2 (reside within the district and child must be 4-year-old by Oct. 1 of the school year of enrollment).

Randi Karpinski and Mary Marks provided public comments at the start of the meeting to let the board know how satisfied everyone is with the preschool operations and with the progress the district is making.

“You’ve likely seen reports that if you have two kids in daycare at this time it’s basically as if you’re sending them to in-state college,” Marks said. “That’s how much it costs and you have saved people in this community so much money for at least the next four to five years. We are eternally grateful.”

The new program covers the $12,000 tuition for each eligible preschool student, as well as paying for the salaries of employees needed to properly care for the newer students, who will be attending Sewell Elementary School.

After the close of executive session, the district made a number of hirings, extensions and promotions to current and prospective employees to accommodate for the newer grade, such as Lindsay Shaffer to full-time staff, Kaitlyn Gilmore to preschool teacher, Russell Brown to full-time custodian and Stephanie Hacker and Demi Jankowksi to paraprofessionals, among others.

“This is a business where we’re always worried about the bottom line, which is educating the children,” said Superintendent Robert. J. Fisicaro. “The fact that we have built a really quality program that the state chooses to give us the opportunity [to expand] is a testament to not only where we are now, but also where we’ve been in the last 10 or 15 years at the inception of our preschool program.”

Fisicaro went on to add the district is looking to make some building improvements in the near future to allow for the preschoolers to open doors, use water fountains, bathrooms, classroom electronics and other building components.

“Then we need to think about what’s beyond,” said Fisicaro. “What will the school and the program look like five years or 10 years from now? Right now, some of our students mentioned the castle section of the building. What does that mean? How do we make the building more handicapped accessible?”

Right now, the district is focused on getting the adequate staff and reworking the layout of Sewell Elementary School to be compliant with the state’s Jan. 1 start date.

“We’re going to get students and families in the door and we’re going to do good for them and give them a quality education and future in the classroom,” said Fisicaro.

Second-grade teachers Sandy Steedle and Jennifer McMahon presented to the board a day in the life of the second-grade classes at Centre City Elementary School, which included writing exercises, students teaching peers the calendar and events within it, and hands-on activities such as making a skeleton from pasta, among others.

The board also formally recognized Robert Johnson for his work and dedication on the board from 2010 to summer 2018, when he resigned.

“We at the board wanted to thank him for his negotiations, input and we’ve had some good times and you were a huge asset to the board,” said Board President Bonnie Nuss.

The next board of education meeting will be held on Dec. 10 starting at 7 p.m. at 685 Main St. in Sewell.

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