Peach County schools to apply for state-funded pre-K programs

alopez@macon.comMarch 25, 2014 

BYRON -- Peach County school administrators updated the school board Tuesday on the proposed pre-K program in district elementary schools and the use of teacher and student data to track achievement.

The district is planning to apply for pre-K funding from the state for each of its three elementary schools. If all three slots are granted, the schools each would serve about 22 students.

The board had discussed starting a district program at a retreat held last fall and have recently received survey data from parents which demonstrate both interest and need, Ken Banter, Peach County’s federal funds director, said at Tuesday’s board study session at Kay Road Elementary School.

Of the 245 respondents, 224 expressed an interest in a county pre-K program, Banter said. Eighty-six students were identified in Byron and Fort Valley by the survey as eligible for the program next year if Peach is provided funding by the state.

Fifty percent of kindergarten students in the district did not attend a state-funded pre-K program, according to survey results.

Feedback received from principals indicates this means many students start elementary school behind in their development, Banter said.

Transportation was listed as the biggest hurdle to enrollment. If the district starts its own program, it would solve that problem for parents by transporting children on district school buses, Banter said.

Superintendent Joe Ann Denning said she is confident Peach County can present a strong application to the Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning for funding.

Students to receive growth reports Wednesday

At Tuesday’s session, administrators Mallerina Marshall and Wanda Stewart highlighted how the district is using student and teacher data to track achievement and growth in schools.

For example, Peach is in its second year of working with a new teacher evaluation system, which tracks student performance and growth under each teacher.

Wednesday, the district will send out student growth model reports to parents. The reports are based on their child’s academic record last year. The reports will describe how much students grew in academic performance relative to other students with similar academic histories.

To contact writer Andres David Lopez, call 256-9751.

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