Dear Parents of PK 4 students:
We are writing today to inform you of some problem solving that we have been engaged in concerning the challenges we continue to face as a school and community in serving all the preschool children in need of a placement. Over the last several years, we have heard repeatedly from parents that they are desperate for school based preschool slots, especially for their 4 year olds as they get closer to kindergarten age. As a point of reference, currently TBPS serves 40 students on site out of 105 eligible 3 and 4 year old students.
Our current program operates two full days a week, either Tuesday/Thursday or Wednesday/Friday, and we have two classes in each session. Our Preschool teachers Amy Scribner and Amy Chambers (our own Miss Amys) have been teaching at TBPS for 16 and 8 years respectively and are well respected throughout the Washington County Preschool community.
Thatcher Brook Primary School (TBPS) is excited to announce that we are increasing the size of our school based Preschool program to be able to accept more 4 year old children. We will be adding 5-7 students in each of our classes starting November 14, 2017. Each class will be staffed with a minimum of 2 adults.This model is in line with the Valley school programs and those statewide.
With this increase in class size, we will have the capacity to serve all 4 year olds currently attending or eligible for Preschool through Act 166. As the parent of a 4 year old, registered through Thatcher Brook Primary School, you can now take advantage of this opportunity to access our school based program. Please contact Principal Denise Goodnow in writing by October 20 (email is fine), if you would like your child, who would need to have turned 4 years old by September 1, 2017, to begin attending our Preschool program November 14. We will do our best to accommodate requests for a specific session (Tues/Thurs or Wed/Fri) but not a specific teacher.
Having the ability to allow all Waterbury/Duxbury parents of 4 year olds the option to attend the school based program at TBPS, makes our pre-school program much more equitable. Until now, families all had the same "chance" at getting in through the lottery. Going forward, it doesn't have to be a guessing game but rather something our families can count on, much like they can in the Valley schools and elsewhere in Vermont. As we work to make our towns more attractive to young families, we want to offer this guarantee at age 4. Given that TBPS offers more pre-school hours than the state-mandated 10 hours/week under Act 166 (as well as access to the school bus, the enrichment "specials" at the school, the meal program and other benefits), this issue of equity is heightened for our families.
We continue to hear the community’s desire to expand all day care on site and are looking at all possible configurations of our school to be able to provide that in the future . In addition, moving forward we want to expand our support of birth - 3 here at TBPS for the entire HUUSD, which could be accomplished through redesign which would allow us more space. Stay tuned as more unfolds through the redesign work of the HUUSD Board.
In addition to serving our students and families, we remain focused on gaining efficiencies and maximizing the investment of our taxpayers. It remains a challenge for some of our smaller private pre K partners to hire and retain licensed pre K teachers.When this occurs, families are at risk of not qualifying for the voucher under Act 166. We are experiencing this unfortunate situation with three providers in our community right now. Now that some of our 4 year olds will not receive the Act 166 credit for this school year, these families (and by extension, our towns) are not receiving the very substantial pre-school dollars that we have paid for (indirectly) through our state taxes. By bringing more students into the public school, we keep these pre-school dollars in-district to serve our youngest 4 year old students, and hopefully open up more slots for the 3 year olds in the private providers that we are still unable to serve.
We know this is a time of change both within our district and around the state. We know more changes are ahead and we are eager to embrace opportunities that will best serve our students. Some changes may involve painful cuts while others will increase educational quality and offer students new experiences. We believe this is one of those positive changes that allows us to offer a more universal, high-quality preK experience in Waterbury-Duxbury.
Please let us know in writing by October 20 if you would like to access this opportunity for your 4 year old to attend the TBPS Preschool program.