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Gainesville schools ponder expanding Pre-K to all elementaries
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New Holland Core Knowledge Academy pre-k teacher Lauren Garrett reads a book to students Wednesday, Dec.13, 2017. Gainesville City Schools is considering expanding pre-kindergarten classes to all schools. - photo by Scott Rogers

Pre-K provides more than just a basic introduction to school.

It helps nurture young minds by teaching structure, play and literacy — the foundation for education — Gainesville City Schools Superintendent Jeremy Williams said.

“It introduces kids to school in a very positive way,” he added.

Williams wants to expand Pre-K classes to all six elementary schools in the district by next fall to reach more young learners.

It could also help better support parents with more than one child by offering the opportunity for Pre-K students to attend the same school as an older, elementary-age student.

School governance councils have been charged with discussing the idea and helping design a plan for implementation.

“We know we have more Pre-K students we can be serving,” Williams said. “I don’t want to see any Pre-K kid go unserved.”

Currently, Gainesville provides eight Pre-K classes at New Holland Knowledge Academy and one at the brand-new Mundy Mill Academy. 

Williams said it’s possible that Pre-K classes will be added. But even if the number remains the same, Pre-K would likely be spread out among all elementary schools next year.

That prospect is bolstered with the Enota school coming online next year.

“We are in a position next year where we shouldn’t have to have modular units at elementary schools,” Williams said.

Pre-K students turn 5 years old during the school year — impressionable years, to be sure. That’s how Will Campbell, principal of the Fair Street School, sees it. And it’s why he believes Pre-K enrollment must grow. 

“The data shows (Pre-K) works,” Campbell said. “It’s a win-win for everyone.”

Pre-K was previously offered at the Fair Street School about five years ago, Campbell said, and he’d like to see it come back.

“It’s great to have kids graduate who started here from the beginning,” Campbell said. “It’s helpful to stay where they started.” 

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