Talon News - Good Local News

By Kirk Carpenter
Special to TALON 



February 16, 2018

The first five years of a child's life are critical. Early childhood experiences and relationships shape the way children learn and develop. The experiences children have in these years help shape their overall cognitive development, their long term health, and the adults they will become. In Aztec most of our students come to us as kindergartens. Currently we are able to serve only about 30 preschool students due to limited space and personnel. Our district is planning to apply for grants which would enable us to offer preschool to more students. This funding would help us with building renovations and personnel costs so that we could drastically change the number of students that we can currently serve in preschool.

There are competitive grants available for both capital (building) projects and personnel costs to get programs started and we plan to apply for them in the very near future. The application for the capital project is currently open. If the overall funding bill, House Bill Two, passes, a grant from the Public Education Department, for personnel, will be released when the legislative session ends. If we are successful in getting the grant funding, we could provide preschool for up to eighty more students in a half day program or about forty more if we decide to do a full day program. There are benefits to both types of programs, and we have not decided which will be best for Aztec yet, but we do know that we are going to apply for funding so that we can start getting more of our students into our system sooner. We recently sent a questionnaire home with some of our students to ask parents if about their views and preferences regarding preschool in the district if were available for their children. The questions we asked were the following:

Did your child attend pre-K?

Was that program public (free) or private?

Was the Pre-K full or half day?

If Aztec Municipal Schools provided pre-K would you send your child?

Would you send your child to a half-day program provided by Aztec Municipal Schools?

Would you send your child to a full-day program provided by Aztec Municipal Schools?

Like our other current programs this will be a public education funded system, which means it will be free and transportation will be provided. In addition it will be aligned with our other grades, so that students that come to Pre-school will be ready for kindergarten. Many of our students are coming in ready, but we believe that given the fact that students are being asked to do so much more than ever before, it is important that we be able to offer parents the option of pre-K.

We know that many districts that will be competing for the grant funding. Our plan at the current time is to look at renovating one of our current buildings which is currently being used as office space to house all pre-k classes. As I stated earlier the grant funding can be spent on building and renovations and personnel, but not on furniture or playgrounds so we will have some investing to do if we are successful, but we feel this is an important endeavor for the children in our community. The importance of getting students involved in our system of education at an early age cannot be overstated and if we are awarded grant funding, it will be an opportunity for the benefit of our students. As we move forward over the next couple of months we will keep you posted on our progress.


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