CHATHAM–Schools Superintendent Cheryl Nuciforo updated the Board of Education last week on the status of the pre-K program the board approved in the spring. Ms. Nuciforo said the district will hold pre-K screenings July 9 and 10. The focus of the district’s pre-K program will be on students who are underserved, behind academically or are unable to attend other programs in the area.
Earlier this year, elementary school Principal Kristen Reno and Director of Data Assessment and Special Programs Jean Scheriff proposed the idea for a full-day pre-K program starting out with 15 or fewer students. They said at the time that while students in the school’s kindergarten come from 12 different private preschools and five different publicly funded preschools, about 25% of the students entering kindergarten had no pre-schooling. These are the children the district’s new program is intended to target. The pre-K class, which will start in September, does not add costs to the budget because it will use a current kindergarten teacher, who would otherwise not have been needed next year due to declining enrollment. The board approved the program in March.
At the Tuesday, June 24 board meeting, Ms. Nuciforo told the board that parents have already begun reaching out to the district regarding pre-K. She emphasized that it was more of an intervention program to target the underserved students, and not a “first-come first-served.”
“We are looking for students that need intervention to move them to the next level,” she said.
Kindergarten teachers will be performing the screenings and will be looking at academic skills as well as social behaviors of the children, she said.
“We’re really looking for those children who don’t have the pre-requisite skills for kindergarten and who can’t access other pre-K,” she added, when explaining the criteria for eligibility.
Also at the June 24 business meeting, the board:
•Recognized members Gail Day and James Toteno, both of whom were serving in their last meeting on the board. Ms. Nuciforo said Ms. Day made a “tremendous contribution” to the way the board handles business, and that Mr. Toteno was a “stabilizing force” and the “voice of reason.” Both were presented with plaques by board President Melony Spock
•Recognized Student Board Representative Collin Anderson, who also served on his last board meeting. He said he was glad to serve the school district and the community over the past year
•Recognized Special Education Director Tamara Thorpe-Odom, whose services were shared between Chatham and New Lebanon districts. Ms. Nuciforo said the Chatham district was able to absorb the position into a psychologist position that already existed, so the district would no longer need to share. Ms. Nuciforo said Ms. Thorpe-Odom brought new perspective to Chatham’s program
•Heard suggested changes to the Student Code of Conduct. Pocketknives are added to the list of examples of weapons, strapless tops and dresses are included as inappropriate dress, and electronic cigarettes and powdered alcohol are added as prohibited items.
The board’s organizational meeting is scheduled for July 8 at 6:30 p.m. in the high school library.