Tacoma Public Schools will open five, new free half-day preschools in September in Tacoma’s neediest neighborhoods at Arlington, Boze, Mann, Stafford and Stanley elementary schools. Whitman Elementary School will maintain its current Title I preschool program.
Studies show that children who attend preschool do better throughout their education. The district wants more of Tacoma’s children who most need it to get that edge for free. The literacy- and technology-rich Title I preschool classes will help these preschoolers become academically and socially ready to succeed in kindergarten.
“We need to provide as many Tacoma families as possible with the opportunity to get their preschooler into an early learning program,” said Ben Gauyan, director, Title I. “Tacoma’s Title I pre-school program will enable us to serve students in a much more proactive way. We also look forward to building relationships with our families during this preschool year so their child is fired up and prepared for kindergarten next year.”
In 2011, the School Board adopted Early Learning as one of its four Strategic Plan focus areas for the district. This commitment to early learning focuses on early assessment and intervention at the pre-K through third grade level to ensure early academic success, and early intervention plays a significant role in closing the achievement gap, another of the district’s top priorities. Because parents with the means more often send their children to private preschool, the Title I preschool program aims to reduce the gap between low-income and high-income children’s rate of kindergarten readiness.
In July, the U.S. Department of Education approved Washington’s Elementary and Secondary Education Act flexibility waiver, which provides relief from certain requirements under the No Child Left Behind Act. This waiver allows Tacoma Public Schools the freedom to provide additional services to students who would benefit from a preschool program.
The costs of the preschool expansion will be $175,000 per site for staff, materials, professional development and support staff for Year 1. For Year 2 and beyond, the costs will be $130,000 per site. The Title I grant will cover these expansion costs.
Each of the new Title I preschools will fill its morning and afternoon sessions with a maximum of 18 students per session. The 10 new preschool sessions will have space for up to 180 students, and highly qualified teachers with preschool experience will teach the classes with assistance from a trained paraeducator.
At all Title I preschools, including Whitman, the district will provide iPads for students to use in class as a learning tool for letters, sounds and other learning activities.
During the preschool year, parents can expect their child to learn specific skills such as:
· Identification of letters and sounds
· Recognition of name and high-frequency words
· Beginning to print and copy his or her own name
· Counting to 20 and beyond
· Giving the next number in sequence
· Identifying shapes and patterns
The district does not provide transportation for preschool.
To apply for one of the new preschools:
· You must live within the attendance area of any Tacoma Title I school (see list below)*;
· Your child must be 4 years old by Aug. 31 this year; and
· Your child must take a simple, standardized academic screening test.
Call the Title I office at 253-571-1111 to confirm your child’s eligibility, get on the list for the upcoming screening test or get more information.
Other preschool opportunities available for income-eligible families include Head Start, Early Childhood Education and Assistance Program (ECEAP), Special Education preschool and English Language Learner program.
To qualify for one of the new preschools, you must live in the attendance area of one of the following schools:
Elementary Middle School
Arlington First Creek
Boze Jason Lee
Fawcett High School
Fern Hill Lincoln