Img_1011File photo of a Great Start event at the Primary School in 2006.

Red Bank parents of children who turn three years old on or before October 1 may be interested in a pair of information sessions on the new full-day preschool program that begins in Red Bank next month.

A year ahead of earlier expectations, the district will debut a new class for three-year-olds when the school calendar begins Sept. 3. Fifteen students will be enrolled, including two already identified for special needs; the remaining 13 slots will be filled by lottery selection in a drawing to be held next week, says Superintendent Laura Morana.

The board of ed has scheduled presentations for tomorrow, Tuesday, at 6:30p and again Thursday at 9a at the Red Bank Primary School on River Street. Parents will be asked to fill out an abbreviated application form for consideration.

The school district already offers preschool for four-year-olds under a state grant. Last year, there were six classes of up to 18 four-year-olds at the Primary School, but state regulations will now limit the number to 15 per class. So a seventh “expansion” class is being created, Moran says.

That expansion class, and the sole class for three-year-olds, will be held at the Middle School. The classes will be taught under state guidelines by educators from the Community YMCA, to which the district has subcontracted the work, says Morana.

The state is fully funding the program to the tune of $12,452 per pupil, which includes instruction, transportation and meals, she said.

All district three-year-olds are eligible, regardless of family incomes, because 71 percent of Red Bank students qualify for free or reduced-cost lunches. State guidelines generally call for a no-income-limits policy when 40 percent or more of a district’s students qualify for the lunch subsidy, Morana says.

Morana adds that bringing the tots into the school calls for “a big adjustment,” and not only on the part of the kids.

“We know that we have to allow for an an initial adjustment to a school setting” for the youngest students, she said. “But initially, it may be the parents who have the toughest adjustment letting go of their children. They’re so little.”

The curriculum is learning based on play, she says.

Longer-term, the state has given local districts up to five years to come up with plans to provide full-day preschool for all three-year-olds. Morana says the borough is expected to have 122 three-year-olds in five years.

The board sent out a mailer about the information session last week. For more information, call the board office at 732.758.1507.

Email this story