Assistant Superintendent Dr. Farah Mahan reported on the school district’s progress converting its preschool program from half to full day – and gave an overview of its required August application for a preschool expansion grant – at the May 23 board of education meeting.
The full-day preschool program is slated for this fall and will happen with or without the funds. But having a full-day program is also one of the requirements for grant eligibility.
“When we talk about these intersecting paths, some of the items that we must address immediately are the full-day program, the schedule, transportation, hiring of staff and updating of curriculum materials and resources,” Mahan explained.
The district would have to implement its preschool expansion within five years of receiving the grant to serve 90% of the preschool universe, which comprises 3- and 4-year olds.
The maximum class size would be 15, with a teacher-student ratio of 2:15. Special-education programs will need to be full day, and the program will also have to include a six-hour instructional day with an approved state curriculum.
Other benefits of the grant include having a preschool committee, enrollment of more students than the Malberg Early Childhood Center can currently accept through the use of private preschool providers, and new staff positions to meet the student-staff ratio. They include instructional staffers, nurses, a preschool supervisor and a community liaison paid for through the grant’s funding stream.
There are still some areas being worked out, such as start and end times that may be impacted by the availability of buses. Preschoolers would ride short buses with car seats rather than the traditional long school vehicle, and each bus would require an aide to help with loading and unloading of students.
Mahan emphasized that the preschool program will use the Creative Curriculum approved by the state Department of Education and will continue to be a play-based program with a number of “choice times” for students to choose what they will do.
Mahan also noted there will not be an after-care program for Malberg this year.
Her full presentation can be viewed on the district’s YouTube channel.
In other news:
- The board thanked graduating representatives of Cherry Hill West, Lizbeth Reyes and Emily Kratchman, and Cherry Hill East representatives Aiden Rood and Vivian Rong for their time. Sworn in were new student representatives Matthew Rentezelas and alternate Gia Gupta at East and Collin Duckett and alternate LaTasha for West.
- Principals for Malberg, Beck Middle School and East High shared updates and achievements for their students
- The board made appointments for a number of roles in the 2023-’24 school year.
There will be meetings for two board committees, policy and legislation and curriculum and instruction, Monday, and a special meeting from 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. That will be followed by sessions of the business and facility and strategic planning committees Tuesday from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m.
The next board of education meeting will be on Tuesday, June 13, at 6:30 p.m.