20220422-LOC-Preschool Stock

The waiting list for the ConVal School District’s preschool program is now open, the district announced Thursday.

The district — which covers Antrim, Bennington, Dublin, Francestown, Greenfield, Hancock, Peterborough, Sharon and Temple — is offering two programs for the 2022-2023 school year with classes to be held at Antrim, Peterborough, Hancock, and Greenfield Elementary Schools, according to a news release from the district.

The programs, part of a push to bolster early education offers in the district over the past several years, will be available for free or at reduced cost for eligible families based on income, the release says, and offer classes for children who will be three or four before Sept. 30.

Classes for three-year-olds are planned to be held in three half-day sessions each week. Classes for four-year-olds are scheduled to run during regular school hours Monday through Friday, with Wednesdays expected to be half-days.

Each class will have one teacher and two paraprofessionals, with additional staff shared among all preschool classrooms, according to the release. The ConVal preschool program focuses on foundational knowledge — including strengthening fine motor skills through activities such as cutting and ripping paper — to prepare students for future grades, as well as social-emotional development.

In ConVal’s preschool program, students participate in small group and one-on-one instruction, the release says. Additional resources are available to students who are reading below their grade level.

The release cites data from RAND — a nonprofit research organization that aims to improve public policy — that the first five years of children’s lives are critical to their cognitive, social, emotional, behavioral and physical development and can set the tone for their school-readiness and lifelong well-being.

The ConVal School District’s Preschools for All initiative is several years in the making, with new developments moving forward as recently as last month.

In March, district voters approved $744,112 to expand Conval’s preschool offerings from five classrooms to eight, which will allow for nearly universal access for 120 preschool students across the district, officials said.

The warrant article arose from a 2016 report from the administration to the school board that an increasing number of students were arriving to kindergarten unprepared and struggled with skills like recognizing letters and counting, district officials said.

“At ConVal, we recognize the importance of preschool and are committed to providing accessible programming to families in the district, especially to those who normally would not have the opportunity to send their child to preschool,” Superintendent Kimberly Rizzo Saunders said in the release. “We urge all families interested in our program to sign up.”

Families interested in signing their child up for the program waitlist can contact Kate Wasserloos at 603-924-7503 extension 2032 or kwasserloos@conval.edu. Student placements will be announced by the end of May, according to the release.Molly Bolan can be reached at 352-1234, extension 1436 or mbolan@keenesentinel.com. Follow her on Twitter @BolanMolly.

Molly Bolan can be reached at 352-1234, extension 1436 or mbolan@keenesentinel.com. Follow her on Twitter @BolanMolly.