Lake Placid offers state-funded universal pre-K - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Lake Placid offers state-funded universal pre-K

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There's a big change for the Lake Placid school district. The district now offers universal pre-K at no cost to parents. The state funds were just announced.

The first day of school for student's K-12 in Lake Placid is Sept. 4 and now a younger group will also be attending class this fall.

"I think it's fantastic that it's been made available to everybody," said Linda Morgan.

Morgan is excited her 4-year-old son, Jack will be 1 of 45 kids starting the new public pre-K program this fall. It's a state-funded program. Before it began, parents had to pay for private pre-K.

"With the reduced financial burden on the parents it's hard to think of a downside," said Morgan.

The Lake Placid school district will be getting $405,000 a year for five years. The district applied for the grant wanting to start a pre-K program.

"We know how critical early childhood education is. We know how much of a different it can make for children, families and really entire communities," said Roger Catania, Lake Placid School superintendent.

The money will be going to one new teacher, increasing salaries for current teachers and things like school lunches, classroom materials and bus transportation. Classes will take place at St. Agnes School.

"We already had a good strong working relationship with St Agnes School and they have had a successful pre-K program, not all day," said Catania.

The announcement about the grant for the pre-K program came about 2 weeks before classes start. School officials say if St. Agnes School didn't already have a part-time program, the new full-time pre-K program likely would not have happened until next year.

"Anyone who is eligible for the Lake Placid Central School District is eligible for this program. As long as they turn four on or before Dec. 1 of this year," said Catherine Bemis, St. Agnes School principal.

The grant money is not going to come all at once. The school will foot the bills and be paid back.

"We're not going to be getting the reimbursement for this grant until later. The word that we heard before was April and then beyond into the summer and maybe even later than that," said Catania.

But pre-K classes will still start this September. Jack will be attending this year and his younger brother Sam will be next fall.

"He will be participating in the program next year so we're hoping it's a success and we'll be sending him along as well," said Morgan.

The pre-K program will also have unique features like French speaking class on Fridays and buddy lunches with kindergartners.

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