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Preschool Update

December 27, 2022

Dear Springfield PreKindergarten Families, 

Thank you for your patience as we work to expand our preschool program.  The purpose of this letter is to provide you with an update regarding our transition plans. 

Over the last two months, we have been busy building out the systems and structures that will support our new preschool program.  This includes identifying appropriate classroom spaces, ordering new classroom furniture, and hiring teachers and other staff members.  There is no question that this process has taken longer than anticipated, impacting our ability to provide a concrete timeline for the transition, and our plans for the in-person meetings to answer parent questions. 

Below, please find a timeline for our transition, as it has been carefully planned out to ensure the smoothest shifts for our staff, students, and families.  In an effort to ensure the appropriate classroom placement and scheduling, we are asking families to fill out a quick survey regarding their intention to participate in the program. 
 

Our first day of the full-day preschool program will be Monday, February 13, 2023.  Students eligible for transportation will have a confirmation of that eligibility in January.  Student school and teacher assignments will be shared in January as well, as we are carefully considering factors such as special services and siblings.  Students currently enrolled in before-care or after-care will be able to continue to participate, and if preschool families have additional needs, we ask that you share them with us in the survey noted above.  While we cannot guarantee open space in the Before or Aftercare program, we will make every effort to identify and communicate availability. 

Below, please find a list of questions and responses that may be helpful as we work toward building a strong early childhood learning program!
 

  1. What does the expansion mean to our schools? 

We are expanding from four preschool classrooms to eight, with two classrooms dedicated to serving our preschool students with disabilities on a full-day schedule, and six classrooms supporting inclusion learning.  Currently, we only have one full-day preschool classroom serving preschool students with disabilities.  In addition, the state program has specific curriculum and classroom requirements that will support the development of our early childhood learning environments, from the use of the curriculum to new learning centers. 

  1. Where will the classrooms be located? 

Six of the classrooms, including the preschool students with disabilities classrooms, will be located at Walton.  Two of the classrooms will be located at Sandmeier. All of the classrooms include a bathroom in the classroom. 

  1. Which students will go to the different schools? 

As per the NJDOE requirements, there will be approximately 14-15 students assigned to each classroom.  Assignments to classrooms and teachers will be made after consideration of a variety of factors, as noted above.  In addition, during the month of January, the students will have the opportunity to get to know our new teachers, so they will be able to transition into a classroom with a familiar face. 

  1. What does a full day look like? 

Due to transportation routes, the school day will follow the building that the student is located in, with slight modifications made to the drop-off and pick-up process based on the school schedule. For students at Walton, the school day begins at 8:50 am and concludes at 3:10 pm; for students at Sandmeier the school day begins at 8:40 am and concludes at 3:00 pm. Additional information will be provided in the coming weeks. 

Using the Creative Curriculum program, the students will begin their day with morning arrival procedures, and participate in a variety of whole group and individualized learning activities, engaging in early academic skills such as letter and number recognition as well as critical social development.  The school day includes lunch in the classroom and dedicated nap time. Below, please find a sample schedule of activities:

Parent Drop Off

15 min

Morning Routine

15 min

Morning Meeting

30 min

Small Group

30 min

Outdoor Gross Motor

20 min

Snack

30 min

Planning Time

40 min

Music & Movement

30 min

Read Aloud 

30 min

Lunch in the Classroom

1 hour

Rest Time (Teacher Lunch)

40 min

Work Time (Free Choice Play)

10 min

Clean Up Classroom

25 min

Recall & End of Day Routine

PreK Parent Pick Up

 

  1. Will parents be able to choose to remain in a half-day program? 

After a thorough review of our program needs, including transportation scheduling and staffing, it will not be possible to provide separate half-day and full-day programs.  While we hoped to provide some flexibility, it would be too disruptive to the program for some students to only attend a half-day program. 

  1. How does lunch and rest time work? 

The students will have lunch in their classrooms with their peers under the supervision of their classroom teacher.  In early childhood education, communal eating is a truly developmental learning experience.  Families that are eligible for free or reduced-price lunch will receive information regarding those options, and students will also be able to order lunch from Pomptonian Foods. Ordered lunches will be delivered to the classroom.  Guidance regarding lunches and allergies will be provided in January. 

  1. What curriculum are we using, and how will this impact my child’s learning experience? 

The district will continue to utilize the Creative Curriculum model in all of our classrooms, and we are excited that the full-day program will allow more consistent use of the curriculum.  In addition, the state funding has allowed us to provide updated curriculum materials to our classrooms, ensuring that the teachers have the resources they need to continue to provide an engaging early childhood learning environment. 

  1. What do parents need to know and do? 

First, we are asking parents to fill out this survey tool, to provide information regarding your specific needs.  

Second, we will be hosting a series of information sessions beginning in January.  Please mark your calendars, and additional dates will be announced soon!

  • January 11, 2023, 5:30 pm- 7:00 pm: Zoom Q & A

  1. Are there any costs associated with the program moving forward? 

No, moving forward, there will be no costs for participating in the program, unless your child participates in before or after-school programs or purchases lunch. 

  1. Are we accepting new students to the program? 

Once we have started the program, and have the current students transitioned, we will identify any available spots in the program, and communicate those with the community at large. Students identified for early intervention programs will continue to join the program as required by the New Jersey Department of Education.

While this has certainly taken longer than we anticipated, we remain excited to begin this expansion of our preschool program, and are grateful to have our families as partners as we look ahead!

Please do not hesitate to reach out to us with any questions or concerns you might have as we take this journey together. 

 

Sincerely, 

Springfield Public Schools
 

Rachel Goldberg, Superintendent of Schools

Erica Scudero, Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction

Michael Plias, Principal, Edward V. Walton Early Childhood Center

Ronald Slate, Principal, Thelma L. Sandmeier Elementary School 

Tiffany Boehm, Director of Student Services