It’s a new year in Cherry Hill schools, and for the first time, preschoolers are starting off with a full-day program and not half.
As Assistant Superintendent Dr. Farah Mahan described it during the board of education’s Sept. 5 Curriculum and Instruction Committee meeting, the district wants to enhance the program with funds from a state preschool expansion grant applied for earlier this year.
The committee expected to find out the results of its application earlier this month and will likely announce it at the next board meeting. Though full-day preschool is a requirement for the grant, the district opted to implement the program before knowing if it will get the funds.
As previously reported by The Sun, the grants requires that the district can serve 90% of preschoolers, meaning all eligible 3- and 4-year olds, within five years of receiving the grant. The maximum class size would be 15, with a teacher-student ratio of 2:15. To accomplish that, the district would partner with other child-care providers to offer programs.
Mahan noted that if the grant comes, several job postings would need to be revised before they’re posted.
Board member Corrien Elmore Stratton was initially opposed to the grant application because of the high volume of ongoing district projects. She reversed that and praised the curriculum committee for its commitment and dedication.
“I’ve been on this committee for a while, and I think when you discussed this in October 2022, I was the first and maybe the only one in the group that said, ‘Don’t do this, it’s too much, we have too many things,'” Stratton recounted. ” … And it took a few meetings. It got to February 2023, where I saw the team was on it, (and) I was on board.
“Today I have a lot of confidence in us,” she added. “The staff here is amazing.”
Anyone with questions about the preschool expansion or switch to full-day preschool can direct them to Mahan or Interim Superintendent Dr. Kwame Morton.
The curriculum committee also touched on family life classes and noted that much of the material and any notices will be the same as last year. As in the past, the district will continue to hold parent information nights and provide references for school library texts that will be used in the classes.
The curriculum will also be available on Rubicon Atlas, and parents will receive a notification via Genesis – expected around October – letting them know when the classes will begin and how to opt out. Parents can do that by sending a letter to their child’s principal.
“We honor all requests,” emphasized Mahan about opt-out requests. “We do not question any requests.”
There was also a brief mention at the meeing about possibly holding one big group for the discussion on sexuality taught by the nurse and a classroom teacher. The discussion in previous years was taught in gender-specific groups.
The board made no decision.
Mahan also noted the district is looking into updating its instructional videos to a more recent version of “Just Around the Corner.”
To stay up to date with the Cherry Hill board of education, visit chclc.org.