The expansion of pre-kindergarten to all six Gainesville elementary schools this academic year has been so successful that more classes are planned for this fall, according to Gainesville City Schools Superintendent Jeremy Williams.
Demand for pre-K enrollment at New Holland Knowledge Academy, for example, prompted the board of education in March to approve the addition of a second class for the 2019-20 academic year.
Until this school year, New Holland served as the school system’s base for early learning, with eight pre-K classes there and one at the new Mundy Mill Academy.
The other four elementary schools in the city had no pre-K classes.
New Holland is the only elementary school that offered just one pre-K class this year, and with 23 students on a waiting list this year, a second class is planned for next year.
A second class was added at Fair Street International Academy in October as 26 students were on a waiting list for slots to open at that school.
Additional pre-K classes might be in the offing, given the growth of waiting lists at other schools.
Gainesville pre-K waiting lists
Schools currently are planning for two classes each, with 22 children per class. That leaves these children on wait lists.
Fair Street: 2
Mundy Mill: 19
New Holland: 1
School officials project that Mundy Mill Academy will have two classes serving 44 pre-K students this fall. But that would leave 19 students on a wait list.
Major changes to the pre-K program were made last year when the board of education decided to redraw attendance zones and divide elementary schools into two clusters, with parents choosing their child’s school within the cluster they are zoned.
One cluster includes Centennial, Fair Street, New Holland and Enota elementary schools. The other includes Mundy Mill and Gainesville Exploration academies.
School officials said redrawing attendance zones would help level enrollment at each elementary school and also prepare the system for enrollment growth.
The change also allowed the system to expand pre-K to all six elementary schools.
Most schools had two pre-K classes, each serving up to 22 students, this academic year.
“Early learning and developing relationships with 4- and 5-year-olds will help each school flourish as the pre-K program expands,” Williams told The Times last fall. “Our teachers and schools have done a great job acclimating to having these young learners.”