Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

March 5, 2014

KSC to expand free preschool options

New half-day programs to be offered at Boulevard Elementary

By Lauren Fitch Kokomo Tribune
Kokomo Tribune

---- — Kokomo School Corp. will expand its preschool program next school year, offering tuition-free half-day programs at Boulevard, Pettit Park and Elwood Haynes elementary schools.

The 2013-14 school year marked the first time Kokomo Schools offered a full preschool program, serving about 200 children with its full-day and half-day options. The corporation also houses the federally-funded Howard County Head Start program at Darrough Chapel Early Learning Center, which provides another 316 preschool slots.

The board of education unanimously granted its approval Monday evening of adding a half-day preschool site at Boulevard Elementary School.

“While preschool is being debated at the state level, Kokomo Schools is moving forward with a concerted effort to do everything within its limited capacity to offer preschool to the students of our community,” said Superintendent Jeff Hauswald. “Leading researchers continue to espouse the value of early childhood education. Moreover, nearly 15 years of data from early childhood programs inside Kokomo Schools shows increased academic performance throughout the K-12 experience and, as importantly, increased graduation rates.”

Dorothea Irwin, director of elementary education and special programs, is excited to expand Kokomo’s preschool program, which started at Elwood Haynes in January 2012 and grew to Lafayette Park and Pettit Park in August 2013.

“Each of our sites … offers something unique to our children,” Irwin said. “All preschool students are immersed in a world of inquiry and exploration as they discover the wonder of learning. Opening a.m. and p.m. preschool programs at Boulevard simply allows Kokomo Schools to serve more children.”

In other business

Also at Monday’s meeting, the board approved additional changes to the 2013-14 school calendar to include make-up days. At its February meeting, the board voted in favor of holding class on President’s Day, Feb. 17, and Good Friday, April 18, to compensate for days missed due to inclement weather. In all, Kokomo Schools lost 10 instructional days this winter.

The corporation already had two built-in make-up days on April 21 and May 16 and Hauswald recommended adding May 29, May 30, June 2 and June 3 at the end of the school year.

“We wish to respect our families’ plans for spring break, as well as our high school commencement exercises,” Hauswald said. “By pushing back our first day of [ISTEP] testing, in addition to making President’s Day a school day, Kokomo Schools students should have the same number of days to prepare for the ISTEP as they had in 2013.”

The Indiana Department of Education also granted waivers for two lost instructional days.

Spring break will take place as scheduled from April 7 through 11, commencement will take place at 7:30 p.m. June 6 at Memorial Gym and final exams at the middle schools and high school will be June 2 and 3. Any additional make-up days will be added on June 4 and 5.

Education reporter Lauren Fitch can be reached at 765-454-8587, by email at lauren.fitch@kokomotribune.com or on Twitter @LaurenBFitch.

Kokomo preschool options for 2014-15 Kokomo School Corp. board of education approved expanding the district's preschool program next school year. Early Childhood Roundup will take place from 5 to 7 p.m. April 22 at Memorial Gym, where parents can register their children for one of the following options: - Free half-day programs with morning and afternoon session available for children who turn 3 by Aug. 1 and 4 year olds at Boulevard, Elwood Haynes and Pettit Park elementary schools. - Full-day option for $70 per week at Elwood Haynes, with before- and after-school care options for an additional fee. - Full-day International Baccalaureate preschool at Lafayette Park Elementary School for $130 per week, with before- and after-school care options for an additional fee. Children must be 4 by Aug. 1 to enroll. The program prepares students to continue with IB or Integrated Arts curriculum and includes Spanish and music instruction.