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The Preston Board of Education's FY15 budget includes funding Universal Pre-Kindergarten (PK) education for all age eligible four-year-old children in September 2014. It also includes funding to employ two instructional assistants to staff next year's kindergarten classes. The PK/K initiatives account for more than half the board's budget increase; the rest largely attributable to mandatory out-of-district special education costs.
The board's focus on early childhood education is significant because PK-3 represents the most important grade span within the PK-12 continuum. Board members, principals, teachers, staff and engaged parents clearly see the relationship between early student success and future student success. Early intervention makes a huge difference. The research is clear - a quality PK experience increases the probability that children will be successful in school, earn a high school diploma, continue post-secondary education or training and live productive lives.
Today, kindergarten is about ensuring that students complete the year being able to read at a developmentally appropriate level. Thus, for children who have not had the advantage of a quality PK experience, meeting these expectations is extremely difficult.
It is not often that a school board and a community have the opportunity to do something that reaches an entire population of children. This is one such occasion. It is worthy of support at today's referendum.
Editor's note: John J. Welch is the superintendent of Preston schools. Preston holds its budget referendum today.