Ocean City School District Awarded State Funding to Offer Full-Day Preschool

Ocean City School District Awarded State Funding to Offer Full-Day Preschool

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Ocean City Primary School (Photo Ben Hale, JASM Consulting)

The Ocean City School District has been awarded Preschool Education Expansion Aid (PEEA) funding from New Jersey’s Department of Education, Division of Early Childhood Education, for the 2018-19 school year.

With the funding, the district will begin offering full-day, general education preschool at Ocean City Primary School beginning Jan. 2, 2019. The state funding allows the district to provide the preschool program free of charge for in-district families, with spots initially available for 21 children.

The program will accommodate children ages 3 and 4 who will begin kindergarten in 2019 or 2020. The application process will give priority to students who demonstrate an economic need and/or are non-native English speakers.

The district will host a Preschool Open House on Tuesday, Oct. 30, from 4-5 p.m. at the Ocean City Primary School. Attendees will have the opportunity to ask questions and pick up enrollment forms. For questions prior to the Open House, contact Lauren Gunther, curriculum director, at 609-399-3161, ext. 8747.

The Ocean City School District currently operates a Preschool Disabled Program that provides appropriate educational experiences for children ages 3 and 4 who experience developmental delays in the areas of speech and language, motor development, cognition and/or social emotional functioning.

This program will continue as is, with the new preschool program building off of its many strengths, including its use of Creative Curriculum, which teachers have found offers innovative instructional strategies to meet the unique needs of young learners.

“We believe that our School District serves as the center of our community, and as such, we work to build strong connections with district families and respond to their needs,” said Dr. Kathleen Taylor, superintendent of schools. “Offering a full day preschool program to our community has been a long-standing goal of mine and also of the School Board. Therefore, receiving this PEEA funding to expand our preschool programming to even more families in our district is a dream realized for us. By making full day preschool accessible, we are helping to set our students up for bright futures.”

The district’s preschool plan incorporates necessary and appropriate policy recommendations that meet criteria such as the implementation of standards and curriculum; valid measures of assessment that incorporate early literacy, mathematical and social-emotional learning; continuous training and improvement efforts for teachers and programming; and a solid foundation to build even stronger community and family partnerships. The district anticipates having a focus on diverse language learners (DLL’s) as approximately 18 percent of Ocean City Primary School students have a home language other than English.

“We are excited about this new program and what it means to our youngest students, and therefore, we hope to reach every parent of a preschool-aged child with the news of our new program. We will then adapt the program to best support our enrollees,” said Cathy Smith, Ocean City Primary School principal. “We look forward to welcoming our newest students to our Primary School family.”

After its January opening, the new preschool program will follow the same school schedule as the school district. The state expects to make PEEA funding available beyond the current school year to maintain and enhance high-quality preschool programs, such as this one, across the state.