$8.75 million grant will help open additional Pre-K classrooms

Published: Dec. 10, 2014 at 10:33 PM CST|Updated: Dec. 11, 2014 at 2:57 AM CST
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MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - Hundreds of thousands of dollars are coming to Shelby County to help fund Pre-K. There are 9,300 kindergarten students in Shelby County Schools right now and only 5,300 of them went through a Pre-K program.

The new funding will help raise that by a thousands of students and allow the school systems to serve a record number of children.

"Children have to come into kindergarten already having basic skills to be successful," said Dr. DeAnna McClendon, Early Childhood Program.

The cost of a Pre-K classroom is estimated at $140,000 each year. That includes materials, support services, and a teacher.

Members of the Shelby County Consortium, which is made up of SCS, municipal and achievement schools, needed help funding the program.

The Department of Education announced on Monday a Preschool Development Expansion Grant of $17.5 million a year for four years. The funds will be split evenly between Memphis and Nashville.

The $8.75 million will help Shelby County open additional Pre-K classrooms.

"This grant builds for a Pre-K through three," said Dr. McClendon."And so the district also will have to keep an eye on supporting early childhood, which is zero through eight."

If the project is fully funded, it will add 50 additions classrooms, serving 1,000 students. It will also include a Pre-K to 3rd grade program, keep consistent and high standards, use age-appropriate standards and provide professional development to new and current classrooms.

"All children will be using the same standards, the same curriculum," said Dr. McClendon. "You'll have the same assessments, the teachers will have the same evaluations and that way we can make sure we have one seamless pipeline of 4 year olds that are moving into 5 year old programming."

So, when will all of this be applied? SCS says you can expect to see some additions as early as Fall 2015. Determining classroom space and recruiting teachers will begin in February, but will take 4 to 5 years to fully implement.

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