Montour to offer preschool pilot program

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Montour School District is starting a preschool pilot program this fall with plans to expand it the following year.

About 60 4-year-olds will attend morning and afternoon sessions at Burkett Elementary in Robinson next school year,

Once a new elementary school is built on the high school campus in Robinson, the program will move there and serve about 150 children.

School board members voted 9-0 on March 27 to approve the pilot program for the 2014-15 school year.

Special education director Fran Serenka said preschool helps children learn collaboration.

“It’s not putting a book in front of them and making them sit and write and do worksheets,” she said. “It’s really teaching them how to play with each other and learn through play.”

The district already has filled the preschool slots through online sign-ups but might open the enrollment again, depending on how many families finalize their participation this month, Ms. Serenka said.

Families must provide their own transportation, she said.

Montour will host parent meetings in April, May and June to gather input and ideas, and will hold an orientation meeting in August. Meeting dates will be posted on the Montour website, www.montourschools.com.

The pilot program includes children who will be 4 years old by Sept. 1 and who live in the school district communities of Ingram, Kennedy, Pennsbury Village, Robinson and Thornburg.

At Burkett Elementary, two preschool classrooms each will be staffed by a teacher and a paraprofessional. Each classroom will hold a two-and-a-half-hour morning and afternoon session, with 15 students per class.

The new school — scheduled to open early in the 2015-16 school year — will have five preschool classrooms, with a total of 10 sessions a day.

Ms. Serenka said the full preschool program would allow the district to prepare most of the incoming kindergarten class — usually totaling about 200 per year — for school.

“We can connect what they’ll be learning in preschool with what they’ll be expected to know and be able to do in kindergarten,” Ms. Serenka said.

The district is set to build a $55 million elementary school on the 110-acre high school campus on Clever Road. The two-story, 155,000-square-foot building will accommodate preschool and consolidate all K-4 students who currently attend Burkett Elementary and Forest Grove Elementary, which also is in Robinson.


Andrea Iglar, freelance writer: suburbanliving@post-gazette.com.

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