DRAFT TUITION BASED PRESCHOOL ACTION PLAN

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1 POUDRE SCHOOL DISTRICT Early Childhood Education DRAFT TUITION BASED PRESCHOOL ACTION PLAN March 6, 2012

2 DRAFT TUITION BASED PRESCHOOL ACTION PLAN Background Summary The Early Childhood Program began the tuition based preschool program on August 31, The goals in implementation of the Tuition Based Preschool Program option were to: Develop a stronger preschool to 5 th grade school community Increase the number of typically developing preschoolers within Early Childhood Program classrooms as peers of children at developmental risk Implement a high quality early education program that is developmentally appropriate, grounded in research, and guided by data Implement more efficient utilization of resources within the Early Childhood Program Beginning in December 2009, the Poudre School District Early Childhood Program began an evaluation of the tuition based preschool program in collaboration with the Tuition Based Preschool Evaluation Committee, which was comprised of a diverse stakeholder group representing the community, private sector early childhood administrators and providers, higher education, parents, Poudre School District Early Childhood Program teachers and Poudre School District Administration. The members of the committee met monthly for a period of two years to evaluate the Tuition Based Preschool Program and to provide recommendations for continued implementation of the Tuition Based Preschool Program option in Poudre School District. The work of the Tuition Based Preschool Evaluation Committee was concluded on January 10, 2012, with a report and presentation to the Superintendent and Board of Education that outlined the following recommendations to the Superintendent: 1. Continue to offer half-day tuition-based preschool to families in Poudre School District. This recommendation is based on favorable perceptions of the program by teachers and parents and the impact of the program on participating children and their classroom peers. 2. Allow tuition-based preschool slots to be placed across the District where there is a need and do not limit placement to certain sites. Allow the Early Childhood Program to ensure that enough tuition based preschool slots are allocated to each elementary school site in order to continue studying the influence that tuition based preschool students have on other Early Childhood Program students. 3. Continue to collect information on the impact of tuition based preschool and evaluate the tuition based preschool program through internal program evaluation by the Early Childhood Department for a minimum of 3 more years. Strengthen the rigor of this evaluation by: a. Incorporating parents education level or family s eligibility for free/reduced lunch in the data set, so that a more appropriate comparison group can be selected. b. Including a classroom identifier in the data set in order to construct a better comparison group of peers. 2

3 4. Survey teachers on strengths, challenges, and needs surrounding a successful classroom with integrated tuition-based peers. 5. Strengthen efforts to market the program to the community, perhaps by emphasizing the life-long benefits of high-quality preschool. 6. Consider offering scholarships or a sliding fee schedule so more children may participate in tuition based preschool. 7. Continue to strengthen collaborative efforts between Poudre School District and private sector providers to address the following questions: a. What child behaviors and skills define kindergarten ready? b. What evidence-based approaches are most effective at preparing preschoolers for a successful transition to kindergarten? Draft Action Plan In February 2012, the Early Childhood Program Leadership team began meeting to review the recommendations made by the Tuition Based Preschool Program Evaluation Committee and to formulate action steps for implementation of the recommendations. As a summary, the following primary action steps are currently planned as next steps: I. Enrollment & Distribution of Tuition Based Preschool Program Slots The Poudre School District Early Childhood Program will continue to offer a half-day tuitionbased preschool option to families. For the school year, the Poudre School District Early Childhood Program will distribute the 56 Tuition Based Preschool slots throughout the current 20 Early Childhood Program sites, offering families the opportunity for their child to attend their neighborhood school under the Tuition based option. Enrollment of Tuition Based Preschool Program slots would not exceed 8 students per site. Sites with more than 8 current Tuition-Based Preschool students re-enrolling for the school year would be excluded from this cap. II. Tuition Based Preschool Program Scholarship Option Children are found eligible for enrollment in the Poudre School District Early Childhood Program under various funding sources and eligibility criteria. Head Start eligibility is based on 100% poverty level Colorado Preschool Program eligibility is based on 300% of poverty level with additional risk factors Early Childhood Integrated Services is based on the determination of need for special education services These 3 no cost program options for children at risk total 94% of preschool slots in Poudre School District. The Tuition Based Preschool Program slots provide the remaining 6% of Poudre School District enrollment. 3

4 A breakdown of enrollment by funding source is presented below: Early Childhood Preschool Funding Options No Cost options: Head Start % Colorado Preschool Program % Integrated Services % subtotal % Fee Based Option: Tuition Based Preschool 56 6% Total % There are children that fall in the gap between eligibility at 185% (free and reduced lunch) and Colorado Preschool Program (CPP) eligibility. The family may meet income level requirements for CPP, but the child may lack other risk factors also necessary for eligibility. While the child may not be eligible for CPP, the family may not be able to afford other community preschool options for their child, and the family may request financial assistance. These families are potential candidates for scholarships for the Poudre School District Tuition Based Preschool Program. The Poudre School District Early Childhood Program will offer a scholarship option to families who apply and whose child does not qualify for one of the no-cost Early Childhood Program options currently available. Families whose income range is between 185% of poverty and 300% of poverty and whose child does not have qualifying risk factors to be considered for enrollment under no-cost funding will be offered the Tuition Based Preschool option. If the family is unable to participate in the full Tuition Based Program due to financial hardship, the possibility of a scholarship offering would be considered by the Early Childhood Program. Up to 10% of the current 56 Tuition Based Preschool Program slots would be used for scholarship opportunities. The Early Childhood Program will process family applications and keep track of families who may qualify for the scholarship opportunity. On May 31, 2012, the Early Childhood Program ERSEA (Enrollment) Coordinator, along with the Tuition Based Preschool enrollment team will determine if the scholarship process needs to be implemented. The tuition received for Tuition Based Preschool and some funds from the Mill Levy prior to 2010 are the only sources of funds to support scholarships for preschool. The 2010 Mill Levy of $100,000 is designated for Early Childhood Integrated Services. The Poudre School District Early Childhood Program does not have other sources of funding for scholarships. 4

5 Below are financial projections for Tuition Based Preschool, including projections of financial impact with introduction of a scholarship option for the school year. Tuition Based Preschool Projections FY 12/13 Revenue Instructional Expense Net 56 at Full tuition 50/50 172, ,294 33,906 5 at 50% scholarship 50/50 164, ,294 25,906 Difference 8,000 8,000 The maximum number of TBP seats allocated is 56. If 56 families pay full tuition, 28 in longer classes for $3150 per year, and 28 in shorter classes at $2900 per year, and each pays an application fee of $50, total revenue will be $172,200. If 51 families pay full tuition, and if 5 scholarships are given at 50% each, and are not charged the application fee, revenue will be $164,200 or $8,000 less than revenue at full tuition and fees. Instructional and classroom expenses are estimated as $2,470 per child per year. With 56 students, instructional costs are projected to be $138,294 per year. Expenses are consistent regardless of changes to income. III. Tuition Based Preschool Program Marketing Current Tuition-Based Preschool Program marketing will continue with the addition of updated information geared toward tuition based families. Updated information will include the following: Emphasis on the life-long benefits of enrollment in high quality preschool through the Poudre School District Early Childhood Program Information about tuition rates Information about sites available Marketing will target business and recreational facilities, along with publications and social media. 5

6 IV. Tuition Based Preschool Evaluation The Early Childhood Program will continue to collect information on the impact of Tuition Based Preschool. In consultation with the Poudre School District Director of Research and Evaluation, the Early Childhood Program will evaluate the Tuition Based Preschool Program through the Early Childhood Program s program monitoring and evaluation process. Data collected and evaluated under this process will include: Student assessment data and student progress Classroom environment data Teacher survey data Data on marketing and enrollment trends Financial data In order to evaluate for the impact of tuition based preschool, each classroom and session will be assigned a unique identifier and parent s education level and family s eligibility for free/reduced lunch will be collected so that comparison groups may be selected. Possible questions to be evaluated may include the following, among others: Do children at risk as classroom peers of tuition-based preschoolers benefit more in comparison to preschoolers who do not interact regularly in the classroom with students from more advantaged backgrounds? How do tuition-based children fare in comparison to other preschoolers in Poudre School District? What do teachers experience as the strengths, challenges, and needs surrounding a successful classroom with integrated tuition-based peers? What strategies are successful in marketing the Tuition-Based Preschool Program to the community? What are the Tuition Based Preschool Program enrollment trends (e.g., at what sites is there high enrollment and why)? What is the financial impact in implementation of Tuition Based Preschool as a program option? What is the financial impact in implementation of a Tuition Based Preschool Program scholarship option? 6

7 Related Work The Poudre School District Early Childhood Program is continuously engaged in the area of kindergarten readiness and preparation of preschoolers for kindergarten, both within the program and through collaborative work with the community. Related work in the area of kindergarten readiness includes, but is not limited to the following activities: Committee based work in collaboration with representatives from all areas of education and the community to focus on working together to define school readiness goals and to explore adoption of a school readiness assessment Collaboration with Larimer County Pathways Past Poverty School Readiness Task Force, the Early Childhood Council of Larimer County, and diverse stakeholders to research and take action to help close the kindergarten readiness gap and establish community wide school readiness goals Collaboration with Head Start Programs in Northern Colorado to write school readiness goals and create school readiness action plans Collaboration with the Early Childhood Council of Larimer County, Thompson School District, and other county agencies to create a county-wide campaign to increase the awareness of school readiness and provide training opportunities for parents Collaboration through Title 1, elementary school principals and staff, and Unite for Literacy to provide Family Fun nights for children who are on the Early Childhood Program waitlist Collaborative meetings and partnership with community child care center directors and family child care home providers to discuss school readiness and early childhood standards and to provide a bridge for children transitioning to kindergarten Collaboration between the Poudre School District Early Childhood Program teachers and kindergarten teachers during the Poudre School District Summer Institute to engage in focused, standards based work surrounding kindergarten readiness and kindergarten readiness assessment 7

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