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Schools district awaits preschool expansion grant approval

The grant would allow 114 new students to enroll in free programs

The Palmyra Board of Education is awaiting approval on an application for a preschool expansion grant worth more than half a million dollars.

If the grant is approved, the state Department of Education will award the district three free preschool classes for 3- and 4-year-olds this school year. The proposed full-day program would be from 8:30 a.m to 2:30 p.m. for children who are Palmyra residents.

Charles Street School Principal Octavia Lee and school Superintendent Brian McBride hosted a public town hall session on Aug. 24 to answer questions and provide more information about what would happen if the district receives the grant.

The current half-day program at Charles Street utilizes one existing preschool classroom and two kindergarten classrooms with bathrooms. McBride said preschool classrooms must measure at least 950 square feet, with a bathroom and extra storage.

“Those classrooms at Charles Street School already meet that requirement,” he added. “So it’s kind of a slam dunk so to speak in terms of using the space there.” 

The new preschool program will accept enrollment applications from 114 students. Both the new and old programs focus on accommodating students of all learning levels, including those who have identified disabilities. The district must request a different form of aid to fund children who need additional support.

“Preschool expansion age is open to all 3- and 4-year-olds, but the state aid only supports students who are not receiving support for specific learning needs,” McBride noted. “It does provide support for students with specific learning needs,” he added, “but that program is funded through what we call the general fund.” 

McBride explained that the existing program is funded through taxpayer dollars, and the new program would get aid through this proposed grant. 

The Palmyra district will hire fully certified and licensed preschool teachers, and students who are already registered for the current preschool program will automatically be accepted into the new one. The district hopes for the program to have a start date of Monday, Oct. 3. 

Potential students will be selected through a lottery, and parents will find out if their child was accepted on or before Friday. The district was supposed to be notified about whether the grant was approved by Sept. 2, but is still waiting on a decision from the state.


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