By Sarah Plummer
Raleigh County Schools weighed the results of the state’s in-county pre-k program review in December and plan to move forward with some changes next school year to continue to fall within the West Virginia State Department of Education’s recommendations.
One of the most noticeable changes will be the pre-k enrollment process, explained Carol Cooper, Raleigh County Schools early childhood coordinator.
In the past, parents have applied at individual pre-k programs and were accepted if space existed at that location.
Cooper explained that next year parents will submit their applications and a team will decide the best location match for the child, which may or may not be the feeder school their child will attend in the future.
Having more control over enrollment is expected to help the county as it moves toward universality as well as best match the children with programs that fit their needs, she said.
The school system also anticipates converting its 18 half-day programs into full-day programs.
The state audit commended Raleigh County for increasing its collaborative efforts, an increase of 24 percent to 34 percent in the number of nonschool-based locations.
Cooper said the county’s pre-k is expected to be 50 percent collaborative sites next year and she anticipates them meeting this requirement.
The audit recommended that the county ensure anyone teaching, including staff and teachers at collaborative sites, is certified.
Cooper also shared that Raleigh County’s pre-k program has an assessment process for its students.
Teachers take anecdotal data three times a year, which is reported to the parents and included in a report later submitted to their kindergarten teacher.
The county has 972 students on file and data has been reported for 697 students, including some 3-year-olds at Head Start locations, she said.
Superintendent Jim Brown said he sees two of their biggest upcoming challenges being converting half-day programs to full-day and finding classroom space as the county continues to enroll.
Cooper added that the state requires 35 square feet of usable space per child.
Currently, Raleigh County has 13 full-day programs and 18 half-day programs in the county, including four Head Start locations, the YMCA Happy Kids child care site, and six collaborative sites.
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