Community Funds Preschool Program - KFYRTV.COM - Bismarck, ND - News, Weather, Sports

Community Funds Preschool Program

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This group of four-year-olds is excited to be in class. But they almost didn't have a room to go to.

"We approached the legislature when they were talking about funding preschool. They decided that they would not fund preschool this year."

After federal funding for Head Start was cut in the district three years ago, there were no preschool options in Wishek. And parents didn't like that.

Tammy has one child now in kindergarten, and two more young children who would benefit from preschool in the future.

"They are required to learn so much by the time they end kindergarten that a preschool prepares them for that.  Not only just that five days a week but a two-day program at least gets you in the school and gets you acclimated to the school grounds."

She and other parents were faced with an overwhelming task in April. In order to continue the program without funding from the state, they had to raise $7,000 before school started. The school board had promised to match those efforts, providing the $14,000 total it would take so that 21 students could come for one-half a day every week and get a head start on kindergarten.

"They learn their alphabet and numbers, and those types of things.  They learn how to get along with other kids. They learn how to walk down the hallway in a line."

Most importantly, unlike a private preschool program, this one is available to every child, regardless of a parent's ability to pay.

"I feel we're a public school and should provide a public education even though preschool isn't required, I still feel that it would benefit everybody if we didn't charge parents for it."

Although this is the third year parents have successfully raised the money needed, through bake sales, rummage sales, and donations, those in the program hope that's not a long-term plan to keep the preschool running.

"In a small community, it's hard to raise $7,000 every year to support a program when there's so many other things that money is needed for.  It would be nice for the parents if they didn't have to go through the fundraising."

But they point out, the fact that they've been able to do it shows the need, and the support, for the program.

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