Early Years focus of task force report

A task force has come up with a list of ways to improve and standardize delivery of educational programming to pre-school children.

A task force has come up with a list of ways to improve and standardize delivery of educational programming to pre-school children in the region.

A total of six recommendations were presented to Wolf Creek Public Schools (WCPS) trustees at their meeting on March 17 by the Early Years Programming Task Force made up of four central office staff, four school administrators and three teachers to help the board determine the best way to provide consistent programming options across the division.

“Currently, we have a fairly mixed bag of early years (commonly known as pre-K) programming at our schools. Some of them are operated by Wolf Creek and others are community, or privately, operated,” explained WCPS acting superintendent Jayson Lovell during a phone interview this week.

“This was a comprehensive, intensive review of documentation along with programming choices in other jurisdictions that allowed the task force to develop a number of beliefs, guiding statements and desired outcomes for Wolf Creek.”

What Lovell and the rest of administration hoped the review would bring out were recommendations that would lead to a stronger pre-Kindergarten program throughout Wolf Creek that would pay dividends over the long term.

“What we want to see is an equitable, similar enhanced experience for our pre-school students and provide a foundational alignment of the program across the division,” he stated.

“This is a major commitment from Wolf Creek and our partners to provide standard, centralized program with the necessary supports.”

The recommendations in the report include developing a new centralized intake (registration) process that continues to include some portion of the user pay currently in place, which will also allow a better level of consistency in programming, staffing and access to support services; a strongly designed program in each community to determine eligibility and educate the public about the pre-Kindergarten program; improved student screening and assessment process; enhanced community partnerships with service and support providers; coordinated and centrally funded staffing with certified teachers with additional support staff along with ongoing professional development; better advance communication with the public and schools; and, sustainable, reasonable financial investment in the program.

“We need to be able to understand, in advance, what children will be attending and what needs they might have. That includes educating people about what the program has to offer, that there are appropriate enhanced supports and extended services available through the community as well as ensuring a certified teacher that understands the nature of the program will be running it,” Lovell stated.

“It’s also important that we have good advertising and communication to make parent aware of what is available and have a reasonable combination of the present user pay and divisional funding to make certain this is sustainable.”

Trustees appreciated the depth of the information and recommendations the report provided and approved the idea to move forward to their 2016-17 school year budget discussions, with the budget set to be determined sometime in April before it is sent to Alberta Education for final approval.

 

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