Drop in Pre-K enrollment threatens number of classes
Mon, 06/27/2016 - 07:27
Pre-K students need to register before July 15
Fewer students enrolling in the public school system’s Pre-K program could force the Avoyelles School Board to eliminate some Pre-K classes, district officials said.
Pre-K is part of the federal programs and is funded solely by federal grants. Classes can be no smaller than 15 students and no larger than 20 students, Federal Programs Supervisor Demetria Alexander said.
“The biggest concern is the number of applications have dropped this year, drastically,” she said.
She said the school system averages about 320 Pre-K students per year, but the number of applications for the 2016-17 school year is not even close to that average.
“If the number of applications we have received stays the same, some classes will have to be dropped at schools,” Alexander said.
The school system offers Pre-K in its six elementary schools. One school facing a shortage is Marksville Elementary, which usually has 70 or 80 pre-schoolers and currently has only 45 registered for next year.
Parents of pre-school aged children are encouraged to enroll them in the program. The enrollment numbers for 2016-17 must be submitted by July 15.
“It is important for parents who have not registered their children for Pre-K to do so quickly because of the July 15 deadline,” Alexander continued. “We want the children to attend Pre-K, but the time is running out.”
If classes are eliminated at a school, it could result in some students who have enrolled being unable to attend Pre-K due to the reduced number of classes.
Federal guidelines would prohibit the school district from creating classes in excess of 20 to absorb some students from classes that did not meet the 15-student minimum. Those students would have to find another option for Pre-K education, Alexander said.
The Pre-K program is also facing a budget cut in federal funding. Alexander said the amount appropriated to the parish’s federal programs receives a reduction each year, regardless of the enrollment in the programs.
Alexander said research shows that providing a high quality education for children before the age of 5 yields significant long-term benefits.
She encourages parents of pre-school-aged children to contact the school immediately to complete an application.
For more information, call Avoyelles Parish School Board at 253-5982.