Gov. Jared Polis’ recently approved funding of full-day kindergarten has allowed the Montezuma-Cortez School District RE-1 to open two new preschool classrooms at the Beech Street site.
The new classrooms will allow the district to offer preschool education to 45 additional students, said assistant superintendent Dan Porter.
“We know that just under 50% of our kindergartners come in with no preschool experience, and we also know how important early-childhood education is to the future performance of our students,” he told The Journal.
Previously, the state provided funding for 45 ECARE kindergarten slots. ECARE – Early Childhood At-Risk Enhancement – funds preschool and kindergarten education for children who experience certain risk factors, such as homelessness, poverty, poor social skills, or abuse, among others.
When Colorado decided to fund full-day kindergarten last month, the state offered the district the opportunity to “write a justification and a plan to move those slots to our preschool,” Porter said.
The state approved their request, and they fortunately had two empty classrooms at the Beech Street preschool.
“Our biggest challenge at this point will be finding more qualified staff for the new teacher positions and finding families that will take advantage of the new openings,” Porter said.