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Preschool services at Fayston School to change

Beginning with the 2009-2010 school year, there will be some changes in the way Fayston Elementary School offers preschool services to 3-year-olds. Please read the following carefully and help us educate others in the community that may be impacted by these changes.

Beginning with the 2009-2010 school year, there will be some changes in the way Fayston Elementary School offers preschool services to 3-year-olds. Please read the following carefully and help us educate others in the community that may be impacted by these changes.

In 2005, the school board signed on as a member of the Washington West Preschool Partnership. The intent of this partnership was to create a cost-neutral opportunity for 3-year-olds to attend quality preschool programming for 10 hours per week. The 3-year-olds would be counted on the school's ADM (Average Daily Membership, or attendance roster) and, in turn, would lower the average per-pupil spending of the entire school population. A lower per-pupil spending means a lower tax rate. Tuition money was budgeted and paid out by the school for any 3-year-old who attended one of the Partnership preschools. The benefit to the school and the payout to the preschool providers was roughly a wash.

Over the years, the cost of educating 3-year-olds has grown and the state has begun to limit the financial benefit allowed districts that provide preschool education. In some cases, it has become a significant expense. This reality parts way with the original intent of a cost-neutral program. Our Partnership program has continued to be cost effective, but that will very quickly come to an end if left as is.

Recent revisions to Act 62 have forced the school board to consider whether or not the current structure of providing services is cost effective. Of particular note, the law now places a cap on the total 3- and 4-year olds that may be counted on a school's Average Daily Membership. Our cap is 22 children. Remember, this number includes 3- and 4-year-olds. The Fayston School currently offers 10 hours of preschool programming in-house for 4-year-olds.

In order to keep preschool cost effective, we are limited to serving 22 children. The board is committed to continuing preschool services on-site for all 4-year-olds whose families have them attend. Over the years, that number has ranged from roughly 9 to 16. We currently have 16 in-house 4-year-olds. Beginning next year, Preschool Partnership slots will be limited to the difference between the number of 4-year-olds attending the school program and the cap of 22.  For example, if there were 18 4-year-olds enrolled, that would leave four slots remaining for 3-year-olds before the combined cap of 22 is reached. The board has tasked me with creating a fair system for determining how the slots are filled. By law, at-risk children and EEE (special needs preschoolers) must be served first. Beyond that, some schools use a lottery or other system to determine availability.
In our ongoing struggle to balance the educational needs of our children and our school's budget, solutions that aim to strike a balance between being educationally sound and fiscally responsible are key.

As always, I welcome your comments and ideas. The Fayston School has an active Early Education Committee that meets as needed to discuss issues impacting our youngest children and their families. To be added to the electronic mailing list for that committee, please email me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call the school to sign up for written notices of meetings. The committee is open to all parents, prospective parents, community members and anyone else with an interest in early education in Fayston.

We look forward to working together in the interest of children.


Dodge is the principal of the Fayston Elementary School.


Chris Dodge
Principal
   
   

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