Northampton Press

Sunday, May 24, 2020

NASD to double pre-K at George Wolf

Thursday, July 31, 2014 by PAUL WILLISTEIN in Local News

$180,000 grant, Head Start expands to 40 children

Pre-kindergarten classes are expected to double from 20 to 40 children this fall for the 2014-15 school year in Northampton Area School District through a $180,000 federally-funded program and a separate Head Start of the Lehigh Valley funded program.

Neither program will need to be funded by NASD.

The Northampton Area School Board voted 9-0 at the July 28 meeting to approve the third-year of the Keystones to Opportunity-Striving Readers Comprehensive Literacy for pre-K children, and in a separate, identical vote, expansion of a similar program.

One classroom at George Wolf Elementary School, Bath, has had 20 pre-K 4-year-olds. A second classroom of 20 pre-K 4-year-olds will be added this fall at George Wolf. Each classroom is to have two teachers.

George Wolf has the capacity to accommodate the second dedicated classroom. Moore Elementary School, Lehigh Elementary School and the Borough Elementary Schools are at capacity.

The program has improved kindergarten student performance in NASD, administration officials say.

"The data shows significant growth for students pre-K," said NASD Superintendent Joseph Kovalchik.

Dr. Kathleen E. Ott, NASD director of data, grants and special programs, who wrote the successful Keystones to Opportunity-Striving Readers Comprehensive Literacy grant application, said the district has been tracking the school performance of the pre-K students in the program.

The Pennsylvania Department of Education was awarded $38 million through the United States Department of Education's Striving Readers Comprehensive Literacy Program.

Approved July 28, at the recommendation of the administration:

· A letter of agreement for the third year between NASD and Community Services for Children, Inc. (CSC), 1520 Hanover Avenue, Allentown, for a preschool program modeled after the Head Start preschool program for 20 students at George Wolf Elementary School for 2014-15 at a cost of $180,000, paid for by the Keystones to Opportunity-Striving Readers Comprehensive Literacy Readers grant, and

· A collaborative agreement-contract for services between Community Services for Children Inc., Head Start of the Lehigh Valley, Packer Avenue W, Bethlehem, and NASD for 2014-15 to implement a Head Start pre-K program for 20 students, all age 4, in the district. There is no cost to NASD for this program, the cost of which was not immediately available.

Head Start of the Lehigh Valley is funded by the United States Department of Health and Human Services and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

CSC operates 56 Head Start classrooms in the Lehigh Valley independently and in conjunction with school districts.

"The results have been, to me, amazing," said Ott, a member of the Early Childhood Task Force.

"This is such a valuable program," school board member Charles Longacre said.

"It makes a huge difference," board member Judy Odenwelder said.

Board member Jean Rundle asked what NASD would do if and when pre-K education program funding ends.

"The [school] board would have to decide whether or not to fund it," replied Kovalchik.

Rundle asked what the criteria is for choosing pre-K children for the program.

Ott said children are chosen based on need. She said those selected are "living below the 100 percent poverty level."

Ott said that for kindergarten students who didn't have pre-K, "it takes teachers months to get them ready."

Miller said that in her classroom observations, "you can tell immediately those who had pre-K."

Board member Dr. Michael Baird said other kindergarten students who are ready "must wait 'til we get them [those who didn't have pre-K] up to speed."

Said Ott, "It's all part of transition. Pre-K is that big transition. You're not losing instruction time.

"We're actually running classes for kindergarten parents," added Ott.

Parents of youths in the pre-K program are required to provide transportation for their children to and from George Wolf.

"You're putting this [transportation requirement] on people below the poverty level. They may not have a car," Longacre said.