The Knox County Public Schools have big news concerning the education of its smallest students.
The district’s preschool program will be expanding to a five day school week at four locations, two of which will also offer extended hours before and after school.
“We are excited to enhance the already high quality early childhood education offered by Knox County schools,” said Charlotte McCoy, director of preschool for KCPS.
The announcement follows notification that the district was awarded grant funds to expand its current services. In addition to an increase in the length of the school day and week, funds will be used to purchase additional classroom supplies for every preschool/early childhood classroom.
According to McCoy, G.R. Hampton and Lynn Camp Elementary will be the first two schools to offer preschool Monday through Friday. Both schools will also offer extended hours before and after school for working families that need additional flexibility in their schedules. Two additional schools will be selected in the upcoming weeks to offer the five day a week program.
Currently preschool students in Knox County only attend class Monday through Thursday and during normal school operating hours. Transportation to and from school will be offered at all four schools adding Friday as an instructional day. Families will be required to drop off and pick up their child if they choose to participate in the extended hours before and after school at G.R. Hampton and Lynn Camp. Families choosing not to participate in the extended hours will still be eligible for transportation services during normal school hours.
“KCPS and the KCEOC Headstart Program will be working collaboratively to serve eligible students,” explained McCoy. Students enrolled at a site that only offers a four day week program will have the option of attending class at one of the four schools delivering instruction on Friday. Participation will be open to all preschool eligible students based on needs of the family. KCPS and KCEOC have a universal application and screening process to determine eligibility in order to fully utilize federal funds.
“Families of eligible children often comment that they struggle finding quality daycare for the fifth day of the week,” said McCoy. “We will be able to serve sixty students with the extended hours and eighty students on the fifth day.”
Knox leaders are confident that the increased amount of instructional time will yield academic gains in the number of students prepared to enter kindergarten. Annually the district utilizes the Brigance screener to assess incoming kindergarten students, with those participating in a preschool/headstart program frequently scoring higher in areas that are critical predictors of school success, including physical development, language, academic/cognitive, self-help, and social-emotional skills. All preschool programs in the school district were recently rated five stars according to the Kentucky Department for Community Based Services’ STAR evaluation program.
Additional information about the five day a week program and extended hours at G.R. Hampton and Lynn Camp elementary schools will be provided to families that are enrolled in the KCPS and KCEOC programs.