Superintendent says he's received strong interest for community preschool meeting
By BROOKS TAYLOR
Mt. Pleasant News
An exploratory meeting to gauge interest in a community preschool in Mt. Pleasant is attracting strong interest, according to Mt. Pleasant Superintendent of Schools Mike Wells.
“I want to have an open, honest conversation about whether we need a community preschool (in Mt. Pleasant) or not,” Wells said this morning.
He said he has invited about 20 people from the community who are involved with preschools in Mt. Pleasant.
The meeting will be at 10 a.m. in the district central office board room.
“Almost everyone I invited is coming,” he said. “We are not trying to change what faith-based preschools are doing. There just seems to be a ton of interest in a community preschool.”
One of the reasons is that with the closing of the Owl’s Nest, Mt. Pleasant does not have preschools to service all of its four-year-old children. Wells said there are about 140 eligible four-year-olds seeking preschool, but there are opening for only about 100 of the four-year-olds.
Another reason for his desire for a community preschool is that it would be an advantage in the district articulating its curriculum.
The state has funded community preschools for four-year-olds for nearly a decade. Mt. Pleasant and New London are the only county school districts without the program. Mt. Pleasant School officials have said in the past they opted not to participate because they did not want to create competition for existing preschools and also they were not certain the state would continue funding the program.
The state has re-opened the application process, though. Applications were to have been submitted to the Iowa Department of Education by July 1, but since Mt. Pleasant has a new superintendent, the school was given an extension until July 31 to apply.
Wells said at the July school board meeting that the district could receive around $400,000 in state funding for a preschool.
“I think we will learn so much from each other at the meeting,” Wells predicted. Following the meeting, the district will do an assessment on whether or not to proceed.
Asked about possible locations, Wells said the first year (which would be the 2013-14 school year) would be a transitional year. “We are operating on such a short timeline. I think we would probably have to add a classroom or two. We have some room at Van Allen (Elementary School).”