CES pre-k receives grant, adds classes

Clanton Elementary School received a grant from the First Class voluntary pre-kindergarten program that will allow them to have five pre-k classes in the fall.

Clanton Elementary School received a grant from the First Class voluntary pre-kindergarten program that will allow them to have five pre-k classes in the fall.

Clanton Elementary School received a grant from the First Class voluntary pre-kindergarten program that will allow the school to have five pre-kindergarten classes for the 2015-2016 school year.

In recent years, the school has had three pre-k classes, each with 18 students, a teacher and a teaching assistant.

According to Principal Rebecca Threlkeld, the school has had to turn away several pre-k applicants in recent years due to a lack of room and funding.

With the new grant, Clanton Elementary will be able to accept 90 4-year-old students in the fall.

Therefore, 36 more students will be able to attend in the fall, adding to the 54 students already enrolled.

CES received two of 202 grants that were distributed among pre-k programs in Alabama in an effort to provide 4-year-olds with access to high-quality, voluntary pre-kindergarten, according to a press release.

Grants were awarded based on several criteria including local needs, local demand and assurances of high quality standards at the new and expanding pre-k sites.

The voluntary pre-k program began 10 years ago, and this year Gov. Robert Bentley and the Alabama Legislature expanded the program by approving a $10 million increase as part of the Education Trust Fund budget to include more schools and add more classes to the schools already in participation, according to a press release from Bentley’s office.

“All children, regardless of where they live, deserve the opportunity to excel,” said Bentley in the press release. “A high-quality, voluntary pre-k program improves their chances of success in school long-term. This is a wise investment that will benefit children and families throughout Alabama.”

CES was issued two grants for $85,500, totaling $171,000 for use during the upcoming school year.

Most of the money will be used to pay the teachers and teaching assistants in the five classes, Threlkeld said.

Each pre-k class is required to have one teacher and one teaching assistant per 18 students.

To meet the requirement, the Chilton County Board of Education will likely hire two more teachers and two more teaching assistants for the new classes.

“What isn’t used for salaries will be put toward field trips and school supplies for the pre-k classes,” Threlkeld said. “This is a really good thing for us. Unfortunately, we’ve had to turn a lot of students away in past years. Without the grant, we wouldn’t be able to provide these classes.”

Students in the First Class voluntary pre-kindergarten programs are monitored by the Department of Children’s affairs to determine developmentally appropriate practices for the age group.

Requirements for the program include daily whole group instruction, small group instruction, learning centers and other activities deemed appropriate.

Students will follow the established Chilton County Board of Education school schedule, attending each day from 7:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

Applicants must be 4 years old and live in Chilton County, and students are chosen by a lottery-style drawing, according to Threlkeld.

“We typically find that the kids who come through the voluntary pre-k program are more prepared academically and emotionally when they come into kindergarten,” Threlkeld said.

Administrators at Clanton Elementary will soon be contacting parents whose children have been accepted into the program.

“We just want to thank everyone for all of the support, especially Superintendent Tommy Glasscock and the Board of Education. We’re very appreciative of the help we’ve received,” Threlkeld said. “We’ve seen tremendous benefits from the program already and we look forward to seeing it grow.”

 

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