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Valley News Dispatch

Highlands expanding pre-K program with $289K state grant

Brian C. Rittmeyer
| Monday, July 23, 2018, 7:51 a.m.

The Highlands School District will be expanding its preschool program with a $289,000 state grant.

With the five-year “Pennsylvania Pre-K Counts” grant, the district said it will be able to provide preschool education to 68 students, up from 40.

Pre-K Counts is a preschool program that prepares children to be successful in kindergarten.

The grant also will help cover transportation costs for all Pre-K Counts students, which had not previously been offered.

Beginning in the fall, Highlands is reconfiguring its schools. All kindergarten and prekindergarten students will be housed at Fairmount; grades 1-4 will be at Grandview; and grades 5-8 will be at the middle school. The high school is unaffected.

“One of the positives of the reconfiguration of schools is that we have the classrooms and space available to expand the Pre-K Counts Program,” Highlands Elementary Principal Samantha Perlik said. “We wouldn’t have been able to do this otherwise.”

To be eligible for the program, children must be 4 years old on or before Sept. 1 of the school year. The district said applications for 3-year-old children also will be accepted, but 4-year olds will be given preference.

Families must also meet income guidelines, which are spelled out in registration materials.

The district would not release the income guidelines, which district spokeswoman Jennifer Goldberg said was being done “to keep the financial status of families who have already qualified (or) enrolled confidential.”

Six students who had earlier been accepted from families whose incomes exceed the limit can no longer be accepted, and have been notified, she said.

Last year, the district had grant money for 17 students, and it covered the cost of three more to fill the class to 20, she said.

“The district can no longer do that,” she said. “We’re just going to allow those kids who meet the income guidelines according to the grant.”

Highlands will offer two morning sessions and two afternoon sessions, with up to 17 children in each session. Pre-K students will attend Monday through Friday and follow the Highlands calendar.

The Pre-K classrooms are located at the Highlands Early Childhood Center, formerly Fairmount Primary Center, at 1060 Atlantic Ave. in Brackenridge.

Highlands is now accepting applications for the 2018-19 school year. Registration packets are available at all district schools and the administrative center.

For information, call program secretary Jaye Misejka at 724-226-2400, ext. 4518 or by email at jmisejka@goldenrams.com.

Brian Rittmeyer is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Brian at 724-226-4701, brittmeyer@tribweb.com or via Twitter @BCRittmeyer.

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