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Emmetsburg School District Applies For State Preschool Grant

By Staff | Feb 26, 2009

ONE OF THE CURRENT PRESCHOOL CLASSROOMS at Emmetsburg West Elementary is the Early Childhood Special Education classroom. Teacher Alyssa Meyers (at right) teaches between five and seven 3- to 6-year olds. -- Lori Hall photo

New growth always brings some growing pains, and that is exactly what the Emmetsburg Community School District is hoping to experience during the upcoming school year.

According to Emmetsburg West Elementary School Principal Matt Pugh, the district has applied for preschool grant funding through the Statewide Voluntary Preschool Program for Four-Year Old Children, distributed by the Iowa Department of Education.

The Statewide Voluntary Preschool Program for Four-Year Old Children was established by Iowa Governor Chet Culver in 2007. The purpose of the program is to expand the opportunities for Iowa’s young children to access quality preschool environments and enter school ready to learn.

Districts who apply for the competitive state grants must provide quality preschool instruction through collaborative community partnerships at least 10 hours each week. Other criteria include district size, a district’s financial state, and if a district does not currently have a preschool program.

Emmetsburg Public School has been collaborating with both Emmetsburg Catholic School and Headstart to meet the needs of preschool students in the area.

“We’ll find out in May if we will receive a grant or not,” said Matt Pugh. “We’ve been working a great deal with the Catholic School and Headstart. We all get along very well and just want to do what’s best for the kids.”

Pugh explained that this program could serve approximately 80 preschool youngsters. Two sections are planned–one in the morning and one in the afternoon–meeting between two and two and one-half hours each day, Monday through Friday.

Currently, the Emmetsburg School District has two all-day preschool classrooms that meet Tuesday through Friday for youngsters who need the extra assistance. Alyssa Meyers teaches between five and seven 3- to 6-year olds in the Early Childhood Special Education (ECSE) classroom, while SueAnne Deitering teaches Kindergarten Readiness to 14 to 15 5-year olds. The school district provides these youngsters with transportation to and from school.

“Each classroom has not only a teacher, but a classroom paraeducator, as well,” Pugh noted. “The teachers try to integrate the kids from ECSE into the Kindergarten Readiness classroom as much as possible, especially the older kids (5-year olds).”

Pugh admitted that the district’s biggest problem right now is finding space for the proposed preschool classrooms. He is currently looking at the feasibility of placing a 30-foot by 70-foot modular building on the east side of the playground at the West Elementary.