Fort Wayne Community Schools to expand pre-kindergarten options for children of families in financial need

Last month, Fort Wayne Community Schools Superintendent Wendy Robinson told school board members that, to help students meet new high school graduation requirements, the district will have to start working with children in early grades to better prepare them for the more-difficult classes they will face in high school.

Monday, FWCS announced another step in that effort by reporting it will offer full-day pre-kindergarten beginning next fall at Study and Adams elementary schools.

Beginning next school year, FWCS announced it also will accept On My Way Pre-K program grants at all Title I schools offering pre-K, the news release said.

Indiana’s On My Way Pre-K program provides grants to low-income families in Allen and 19 other counties so they can send their 4-year-olds to a high-quality, pre-K program the year before the child starts kindergarten, it said on the program’s website.

Title I schools are those that qualify for extra federal funding because they serve a high number of or a high percentage of children from low-income families.

“We are excited to be able to offer full-day pre-K at Adams and Study, which will give students extra time to learn in a fun, age-appropriate learning environment,” Get Nichols, FWCS assistant superintendent of elementary education, said in the news release. “While we make the most of our time in our half-day programs, these two schools will have the opportunity to expand lessons and explore concepts at a deeper level.

“At the end of the school year, we will evaluate the programs’ success to determine if we can expand other programs to full-day,” Nichols said.

Earlier this school year, FWCS announced it plans to expand pre-K for 4-year-olds to full-day next year at two magnet schools – Whitney Young Early Childhood Center, 1026 E. Pontiac St., and Bunche Montessori Early Childhood Center, 1111 Greene St.

FWCS currently also offers half-day pre-K at 15 other schools, the news release said.

Currently, only Adams, 3000 New Haven Ave., and Bloomingdale, 1300 Orchard St., elementary schools accept On My Way Pre-K grants as a pilot program in FWCS, the news release said.

Next year, however, all 17 FWCS elementary schools with Title I pre-K programs will have openings available for students whose families qualify for an On My Way Pre-K grant, the news release said.

“We believe in the value of quality, early childhood education,” Nichols said in the news release. “By expanding the number of schools accepting On My Way Pre-K grants, we are providing more access to our successful pre-kindergarten programs.

“We know that the sooner children enter a high-quality program, the more success they will have in kindergarten and beyond,” she added.