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EACS hopes to expand preschool

Meeting with state officials to pursue pilot program

Three East Allen County School officials will meet with state education and other agency officials at a statewide meeting in Indianapolis on Sept. 24, hoping to get some answers on the district’s projected 2015 preschool expansion.

Rose Fritzinger, the district’s director of development, will attend the meeting along with the principals of Southwick Elementary and New Haven Primary schools, where the half-day pre-kindergarten program already exists, she said at the EACS board meeting Tuesday.

The district has about 75 preschoolers, and with the new initiative led by United Way of Allen County, Fritzinger said she envisions adding three half-session classes by the fall of 2015.

Each class would take between 10 and 12 students, she estimated.

Existing pre-K classes hold up to 15 students and are funded through a federal program known as Title 1.

The new classes are state funded, she said.

Gov. Mike Pence has asked that the new classes open as early as this January, but Fritzinger and the board members said they were not anticipating any new classes until next year.

In July, Pence named Allen County as one of five counties that would receive funding for the pre-K pilot program.

By July of next year, officials from the Family and Social Services Administration expect between 240 and 440 4-year-olds from low income families to be enrolled in Allen County.

Parents would more than likely use a state-funded voucher to enroll their children, Fritzinger said.

"My thing would be adding to the program," said board member Terry Jo Lightfoot.

"They will do better if they go to a pre-K program. (It measures) how kids do in school because it really makes a difference. It’s such a proven method," she added.

Superintendent Ken Folks said there is room in all eight elementary schools, but did not say which of those schools would be most likely to house the pilot program.