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BPS to offer all-day preschool

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Beatrice Public Schools will soon be opening registration for a new all-day preschool program for 4-year-olds.

Beatrice Community Preschool plans to offer two sessions of all-day preschool for 4-year-olds beginning next school year.

"We did surveys to poll our community and we saw that parents would like the option of an all day program for kids," said BPS Birth-5 coordinator Missy Timmerman. "I think transportation is an issue so by offering an all day program you’re relieving some of that stress of trying to get your kid to and from somewhere in the middle of the day. It's an option for parents and if they think 'hey if my kid has extra time in school that’s not a bad thing.'"

The two full-time sessions will require the hiring of two full-time teachers and two paraprofessionals

Superintendent Pat Nauroth said the Board of Education will vote on the hiring of the two full-time teachers hopefully by February or early March.

Salaries for the two teachers would likely range from $45-55,000 a year (a figure that includes benefits.) Salaries for two paraprofessionals are $18,000 each, $36,000 total (including benefits.)

Nauroth said salaries could change based upon the teacher's level of experience and education.

Online enrollment for next year will start sometime in January, paper forms that can be mailed out are also available by calling Beatrice Public Schools.

The enrollment capacity is 110, but Timmerman said enrollment will be kept open for now.

"We'd like to serve as many 4-year-olds as we can," she said.

Children will start being placed in classrooms toward the end of April and a wait list will begin from there.

"We'll kind of be able to tell by numbers," Timmerman said. "We're assuming full-time positions will fill up quickly, it's on a first come, first serve basis."

The rest of the children will be moved to a half day program, she said.

Specifics on age requirements and cut offs to be eligible for the program, are to be released at a later time.

There is no cost for children attending who receive free or reduced lunches, children who do not receive free or reduced pay a minimal fee, Nauroth wrote in an email.

There were talks of the two full-time classrooms being located at Southeast Community College at one point.

Rent per year at SCC, if the programs were housed there, would cost $16,750.

Timmerman said nothing is set in stone at this time but they are applying for an expansion grant for the preschool and looking into other opportunities for play equipment.

Costs for the two classrooms and one playground are estimated at $45,000.

SCC Career Academy coordinator, and member of the BPS school board, Doris Martin said she would really like to see outdoor educational facilities.

"I they have some that are just really wonderful and very educational and add a whole new dimension to recess...," she said.

Both Martin and Timmerman reiterated how vital playtime outdoors and in, is at this age.

"We want to be purposeful in what they do but also remember they're 3 and 4," Timmerman said.

Timmerman said the 4-year-old's will be taught a curriculum bought by the district called teaching strategies.

"It is very much planned out purpose play," she said. "We have learning targets each week that teachers have generated through teaching strategies...an online assessment system mandated by the state of Nebraska, so we take them and say 'Okay how are we going to meet these? If we do this each week for math and language, we're going to get to the end goal.'"

Timmerman said most of the kids' time would be spent playing in centers, small or large groups.

"If we can lay in opportunities to teach while they’re playing it's going to be lasting for them and its going to stick," she said. "We may be teaching how to count to 5 or what 5 means but we're doing that play based, hands on - paints, building blocks or counting reindeer this time of season,

"It's purposeful play. The kids are playing but all the adults know while they're playing we need to try to lay in beginning letter sounds (for instance)."

Timmerman said kids can be taught beyond this level yet will also have extra help available if they're not quite understanding something.

"We do small groups for kids who maybe aren’t getting it," she said.

Research shows preschool is where a lot of growth takes place, Martin said.

"They don’t do worksheets, it's set up so kids will develop skills necessary for kindergarten through play...," she said. "I was a high school teacher so all of this has been kind of a fun adventure.

"I think all day will be a really good option, I mean as former teacher I would not have been able to do it...A lot of people have jobs and a lot of people are able to do that so if we give people a choice that’s best for everybody concerned."

The two full-time sessions will follow the Beatrice Public Schools 2015-16 calendar but will start a week earlier so teachers can do a home visit to meet families, Timmerman said.

"Family is the first teacher," she said. "We want to establish a bridge between home and school. The teacher gets to know a little bit about the child's environment...It's a nice way for the family to get to know the teacher and the teacher to get to know the family."

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