NORTH FULTON, Ga. - Pre-kindergarten classrooms across the Fulton School System will be available next year for nearly 1,700 4-year-olds, with 328 spots available in North Fulton County elementary schools.
The school system has applied for a $5.7 million grant which will allow the program to continue, and expand to 180-days from its current 170-day calendar.
Now in its 22nd year of service, the Fulton Schools Pre-K program has provided early education skills for more than 25,000 students since it began as a pilot program in 1991. The program is fully-funded through the state, using proceeds from the Georgia Lottery program, noted school officials.
“The goal of the Fulton County Pre-K Program is to provide young children with appropriate preschool experiences,” said Montreal Bell, coordinator for Fulton School’s Early Childhood program. “We emphasize growth in language and literacy, mathematical thinking, scientific thinking, social studies, personal and social development, physical development and health, and the arts, which are the learning experiences they need in order to succeed in Kindergarten.”
An assessment survey completed after the 2011-2012 school year showed Fulton’s Pre-K program is meeting its goals for the vast majority of participants, indicating they are better prepared as they enter kindergarten.
Statewide, more than one million students from every county in the state have gone through the state-funded Pre-K Program, which has served as a model of success for many other states.
In Fulton County Schools, classrooms are opened where space is available, with the majority of openings in elementary schools in South Fulton. A lottery is held at schools where there is higher demand than space available.
For the 2013-2014 school year, 77 classes in 42 schools are planned, with 12 locations in North Fulton. Of the 77 classes, eight will be designated as “inclusion” classes, which will provide services for special needs students alongside “typical” students.
Registration begins this month, and lotteries will be held where demand is greater than availability, said Bell. This year began with 809 students on waiting lists, and Bell said the system could fill 32 additional classes if space and funding were available.
However parents who can’t find room in a public school may find an opening in one of the more than 2,000 private providers of the program. For information on these privately-funded pre-kindergarten programs, visit the Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning’s web site, www.decal.ga.gov.