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Preschool now offered for free in Monroe County

WOODSFIELD — Youth residing in the Switzerland of Ohio Local School District will now be able to attend preschool at no charge.

The Switzerland of Ohio Local School District Board of Education recently voted in favor of a preschool expansion with the Ohio Valley Educational Services Center Bright Beginnings Preschool. The expansion will allow residents ages 3-5 to attend school for free beginning in the 2021-22 school year.

Chief Academic Officer Jennifer Bohach said there were a number of factors that led to the decision. She said they wanted to ensure all district students have the opportunity to attend preschool classes which are vital for future student success and preparedness.

“A lot of our students are coming in well below kindergarten-ready students. We found a correlation between kids that were scoring much higher that were enrolled in the Bright Beginnings preschool and similar kindergarten ready classes; so increasing them from two to four days and free tutions helps boost the amount of students we can help get ready for kindergarten,” she said.

Prior to this coming fall semester when the SOLSD will absorb the cost, the cost per student to attend preschool classes each month was $140. The district’s preschool classes will also be extended from two days a week to four days a week for the kindergarten readiness classes for children ages 4.5 to 5. Children ages 3-4 will continue to attend classes two days a week.

Bohach said another deciding factor in the board’s decision was due to a high response received from parents on the preschool expansion survey that was released last month. The survey asked parents various questions including one about interest in registering students in a preschool class if it was free of charge. She said 81 families in the district responded to the survey — 93 percent of whom had students who were eligible to enter preschool this fall.

“We definitely feel there is a need for the classes in the district,” she said.

In addition to the district’s five classrooms, Bohach said SOLSD will be opening three more classrooms to accommodate kindergarten readiness preschool classes for children aged 4.5 to 5, Bohach said. These new classrooms will be located at Beallsville Elementary, Powhatan Elementary and Woodsfield Elementary.

She said the board will also consider adding two more preschool locations in Skyview Elementary and River Elementary schools for children ages 3-4, a program will be held two days a week.

“If the numbers warrant it, we’ll lease the spaces. We’ll have a better idea next week,” she said.

Bohach added that the district will continue to provide bussing and meals for students attending preschool.

Joy Edgell, director of preschool services for the OVESC, said the classes will have a positive impact on the community.

“Every family will now have access to quality preschool. It’s so pivotal for a district. It really gives access to all of their students and sets them up for a strong foundation to enter into kindergarten,” she said.

Edgell said the OVESC does not yet have the official numbers of how many plan to attend the classes in the fall semester, but they expect a good turnout.

Parents can register children in the preschool classes throughout the year, Bohach said. For more information on the district’s preschool options or to register students, contact the OVESC office at 740-373-6669.

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