RunningGirls in the limited-enrollment program for three- and four-year-olds holding hands as they run outside the Red Bank Middle School this week. Below, kids lined up for the start of playtime. (Click to enlarge)


March 12 is double-decision day for Red Bank’s schools.

That’s the borough district and others learn just how much state money is coming their way, and thus, whether they can count on taxes going up, down or sideways.

But it’s also the day that borough Superintendent Laura Morana expects to hear whether she can move ahead with plans to expand Red Bank’s full-day preschool program.

A program for 3-year-olds started in September with one class of 15 children. Because of space constraints at the primary school, the preschool class is housed in the middle school.

If aid for the program expansion is approved, there will be room for four classes of 3-year-olds – for a total of 60 students – in the fall, Morana says.

Red Bank plans to contract with area daycare providers, the Monmouth Day Care Center and the Tower Hill School, to house the preschool classes.

If approved, the daycares would hire teachers, who would be trained by the district to administer its innovative curriculum, called Tools of the Mind, which is aimed at imbuing children with the ability to control their own emotions and behavior, and thus become better students.

Tools of the Mind continues to draw interest from top educators. On March 5, a group of educational honchos that includes professors from the Harvard Graduate School of Education, the University of Michigan and Georgetown University will visit the Red Bank Primary School to see Tools of the Mind in action.

Here’s a report from a Hoboken administrator,  Anthony Petrosino, after just such a visit last year.

Morana tells redbankgreen she is optimistic the state funding for the preschool expansion program will be approved, although nothing is certain during these economically challenged times.

Eventually, Morana said she would like to provide preschool for all eligible children, which she estimates to number about 100.

Meantime, the primary school will be holding preschool, pre-K and kindergarten registration information sessions on Tuesday, March 3, at the primary school, with sessions scheduled for 9:30a and 6:30p.

Here’s what’s on tap, according to Morana:

1. Introduce the preschool program to parents in attendance: prek curriculum, alignment with kindergarten curriculum, data on success of Prek- Grade 3 program,
2. Parents will make appointments for registration to be completed later in the month,
3. Parents will learn about program organization for 2009-2010.

To be eligible for the preschool and pre-K programs, children must turn 3 or 4 years old by October 1.

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