Lincolnshire District 103 to expand preschool program
For the first time, Lincolnshire-Prairie View Elementary District 103 officials this fall will open preschool enrollment to any 3-year-olds living in the district.
The early childhood program, which is at Sprague School in Lincolnshire, had been open to any 4- and 5-year-olds and to 3-year-olds who receive special-education services. Officials have decided to offer the program to more students to ensure all the kids with special needs in the program learn alongside peers who are developing traditionally, District 103 Superintendent Scott Warren said.
"It is important for children of different abilities to work alongside each other, to learn through their diversity (and to) serve as models for learning," Warren said.
A blended program also encourages collaboration, creativity and empathy, he said.
The preschool curriculum includes literacy, math, science and social skills.
Thirty-seven kids are in the program this year. They're split among five 2½-hour classes, three are held in the morning and two are in the afternoon.
When the program expands in the fall, there will be room for up to 66 students, Warren said.
In another change to the program, officials plan to allow preschool students who receive special education services and who could benefit from extra classroom time to take both morning and afternoon sessions. Two classes will be held in the morning, two will be held in the afternoon and a fifth will serve students who attend the longer program.
Giving preschoolers who have special needs more classroom time per day may give some the chance to attend preschool in District 103 instead of at other facilities at the district's cost, Warren said.
District 103 officials try to keep students with special needs in mainstream, district programs as much as possible so they can learn alongside their peers, Warren said.
The annual tuition for the early childhood program is $2,950 per student. For students receiving special-education services, that cost is covered by the district.
Preschool programs and admissions rules vary at other Lake County elementary school districts.
Hawthorn District 73, Mundelein District 75 and Fremont District 79 team up to offer an early childhood program to all qualified, age-appropriate students and a preschool program for kids who are at risk of not succeeding in kindergarten, said Carol Bennett, principal at the Lincoln Early Learning Center in Mundelein.
Additionally, District 79 offers a separate, tuition-based program for 3- to 5-year-olds.
All three programs use half-day classes, Bennett said.