Cheshire school looking to offer full-day preschool

Cheshire school looking to offer full-day preschool


8. Darcy School Principal Ann Donnery: $133,742

CHESHIRE — School officials are looking for families interested in enrolling 3 and 4-year-olds in an all-day preschool program funded by a state grant.

The funds will pay for two teachers and two instructional assistants for two 15-student classes at Darcey School.

Principal Ann Donnery said the state identified Cheshire as being in need of high quality, affordable preschool. She couldn’t yet promise parents the classes will be held since the local education budget for next year isn’t finalized.

“We have to evaluate the grant against the impending budget circumstances,” Donnery said.

The state Board of Education’s Smart Start program pledged $150,000 in capital improvements for all-day preschool as well as $150,000 for the next six years to run the classes. Donnery said it’s a great opportunity.

“Affordable, high quality preschool is hard to find. There are many great programs in Cheshire, but they’re expensive,” she said. “We think it’s a wonderful opportunity for Cheshire families.”

Preschool costs are based on family size and income. For a family of four making about $55,000 per year, a student would cost $60 per week. For the same sized family making about $90,000 per year, the cost would be $90 per week.

Half of the students must be English language learners, Donnery said, or be eligible for free and reduced lunch. She’ll also attempt to gender-balance the class but beyond that, the first families to sign up for a slot will receive one.

Preschool will run from 8:50 a.m. to 3:20 p.m. on weekdays. Children must by four years old by Jan. 1, 2018 to qualify. Interested parents can call Darcey School at 203-272-3343

Cheshire school board chairwoman Cathy Hellreich said she anticipates local parents will be excited about the opportunity.

If there’s interest and space and the grant is accepted, she said it doesn’t lock the town into six years of preschool.

“We would have the ability, if something were to happen down the road, we wouldn’t have to fulfill six years,” Hellreich said.

While some larger districts have all-day preschool programs, it’s not something that has been considered in depth yet by the Cheshire school board.

“We have a great birth-to-three program, we have a great kindergarten,” Hellreich said. 203-317-2230 Twitter: @JBuchananRJ

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