GUILFORD, Maine — A preschool program that had been limited to pupils eligible for Head Start services will be available for all 4-year-olds in SAD 4 in the fall.
Over the years, SAD 4 and Penquis partnered to provide a preschool program for up to 20 pupils who qualified under Head Start guidelines, according to Paul Stearns, SAD 4 superintendent. While that partnership will continue, thanks to one-time stimulus funds, the program will be expanded to include any SAD 4 child who will reach 4 years of age by Oct. 15.
“Without a doubt, every bit of research that we’re able to put our hands on tells us that the long-term social and educational and economic benefits are the greatest from this type of early intervention,” Stearns said Tuesday.
The stimulus funds will pay for the program the first year and the district will fund the program in future years, according to Stearns. As such, the added enrollment will bump up the state subsidy, he said.
Pupils eligible for Head Start services will continue to receive them, according to Stearns. SAD 4 will hire a full-time certified teacher who will collaborate with Head Start instructors to provide a curriculum that will maintain the original components. The program also will be enhanced with appropriate activities and learning opportunities that align with the state standards for elementary pupils, he said.
“Our relationship with Penquis Head Start has been excellent over the years, and this new arrangement fully embraces and enhances that relationship.”
Stearns said Child Development Services also will continue to play a role in the program by providing special education identification and support services for the pupils.
Both morning and afternoon sessions will be offered five days a week at the Guilford Primary School building. Breakfast will be served for morning pupils, and lunch will be served to pupils attending the afternoon session. Those meals will be served “family-style,” Stearns said, which will help the pupils learn social skills.
School bus transportation will be available.
If there are remaining slots left unfilled in the district, Stearns said the program would be offered to surrounding communities that do not offer a program to 4-year-olds, such as the town of Willimantic.
“We would be more than willing to take those students in, but they couldn’t displace a SAD 4 student,” he said.
An informational meeting and registration will be held at 6:30 p.m. June 3, at Guilford Primary School. Parents must bring their child’s birth certificate and immunization records. For more information on the registration, call Pam Speed at 876-4590.