Letter: Location of preschools matters
Providing publicly funded preschool for at-risk students is required by the state of Colorado. Currently, the Steamboat Springs School District provides preschool services at the Steamboat Springs Early Childhood Center in our Seventh Street building, which houses the district office, Yampa Valley High School, BOCES offices and Boys and Girls Club. The preschool program formerly was included in our elementary schools until 21 years ago when it was relocated to Seventh Street due to space issues.
Steamboat Springs Early Childhood Center supports many of our at-risk students in the community with therapeutic services in occupational therapy, speech/language pathology, school psychology, physical therapy and more. The center supports students with language and social barriers through the Colorado Preschool Program. The teachers at the center are not only classroom lead teachers but are early childhood special education teachers, case managers and Colorado Preschool Program coordinators.
Support for students, their families and staff would significantly increase if the program was in each elementary school and the proposed pre-K to eighth-grade school.
The location of the preschool program matters because resources can be better leveraged to provide more support for students including a seamless transition for students into kindergarten. The practice of including preschool in elementary schools is best practice in our state. This inclusive model of preschool means it is best for all students to have tuition-based students learning alongside our identified at-risk students.
The bond question on the ballot this November includes renovating classroom space at Strawberry Park Elementary School and utilizing one classroom in the proposed addition at Soda Creek Elementary School to replace the modulars to house preschool. The bond includes a plan to build proper playground space and pick-up and drop-off areas for these younger students.
In the proposed pre-K to eighth-grade school there will be a space to include one preschool classroom. One classroom at each elementary school dedicated to preschool will allow each school community to provide services to between 15 and 30 preschool students depending on the model of full-day or half-day programming.
Let’s bring our preschool program back into the schools where it belongs to deliver the high quality services that students need. Join us in voting for 4A, 4B and 4C.
Routt County United Way co-presidents
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