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More schools add preschool

More preschool classes will be offered throughout the county beginning with the 2014-15 school year.
A pilot program has been taking place this semester at New Middletown and Heth-Washington Elementary schools (see related story, front page). Now, the last two elementary schools in the South Harrison Community School Corp. will offer the jump-start program for those who are 4 years old by Aug. 1 of this year.
Also, the North Harrison Community School Corp. approved allowing Blue River Services Inc. to operate preschool on a one-year trial at both Morgan Elementary and North Harrison Elementary schools beginning in August.
Julia Baylor, director of children’s services for BRS, along with Lisa Jones, principal at NHES, made a presentation before the North Harrison school board May 8.
Baylor said the school day will be from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., but children can arrive as early as 8:30 a.m. and stay as late as 3:30 in the afternoon. Lunch and an afternoon snack will be provided.
‘We do have an after-school program’ at both schools, so teachers would escort any preschoolers who remain late to the area for that program, she said.
The hours for the preschool teachers would be 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., and aides would be required to be at the school the same hours as the preschool students.
‘We’re not planning to provide transportation,’ Baylor said. However, if not having transportation would prevent a child from being able to attend, BRS would work with the family, she said.
Besides the age requirement of being 4 by Aug. 1, Baylor said children would have to meet income guidelines (households with an income below 185 percent of poverty) in order to be eligible.
When asked who would be responsible for the preschool students, Jones said the building principals.
‘Just like with after-school, ultimately, it’s my building, my children; I’m responsible,’ she said of those who will attend North Harrison Elementary.
Morgan principal Megan Reynolds, who was not at the meeting, will be responsible for the preschoolers in her building.
Jones said that the students won’t be ‘just housed in our buildings, but will be part of our buildings.’
Through the Harrison County Community Foundation’s Jump Start Early Education Initiative, funding, up to $10,000 per classroom for equipment and up to $120 per student for all-day preschool for 36 weeks ($4,300 per year per child), is made available for those at-risk students identified by the schools.
‘Educationally, for children, (all-day preschool) made sense,’ Jones said, but the school corporation didn’t have the needed funds. ‘This (partnership with Blue River Services) does make sense.’
Baylor said BRS will conduct an ‘extensive’ background check on applicants being considered as teachers, as well as aides, if needed. (Each school can accommodate up to 15 students; if there are 10 or fewer, no aide will be needed.)
Jones assured the board that room is available at both schools to offer the program at no cost to the school corporation.
The North Harrison five-member board unanimously approved the program for one year.
For more information or to enroll a child in the preschool program at either of the North Harrison schools, call Baylor at 812-738-4971.