The Mancos Early Learning Center opened a new classroom and started an extended care program for the new school year. The center's Director Pearlie Mae Chadwick said that additional funding from the state allowed the school to accept more students, hire a new teacher and open all the classrooms for the first time.
In January 2013, the center opened with 25 students, and enrollment has expanded to 32 with the ability to take six more tuition-free. The tuition-free slots are funded by the state, and the number available is based on the school's waiting list and the needs of the district, she said.
The director also said she thinks a growing demand from families that will pay tuition for their student will add to the enrollment numbers. Currently, 10 students fit this category.
School readiness for was a focus of the elementary school principal last year, and Chadwick said it is apparent to the Mancos kindergarten teacher which students attended preschool. The learning center uses a state approved curriculum that helps the students as young as three get ready for school.
"If you don't get those basic skills in the first few years, it seems like they spend the next few years learning the emotional part," Chadwick said.
The center can only offer free enrollment to students that fit the state's risk factors. Some of these include family income, frequent moves and the parents' education level. Four-year-old children must have one risk factor to qualify, and 3-year-olds must have three risk factors.
On Monday, the center also started a tuition-based after school program called Kids Camp that will be available Monday through Thursday from 3:40 to 5:30 p.m. for students in preschool through third grade. It will also be available when school is in session on Fridays. However, Kids Camp will not be offered during on teacher work days.
Instructor Brittney Morgan planned to have eight students on the first day. Crafts, games, snacks, nature hikes and homework time are some of the activities she had sketched out for the kids.
Providing an outlet for after school care was one of the goals of building the learning center to help fill one of the voids in Mancos, Chadwick said.
Parents interested in enrolling their student at the center should bring a birth certificate, immunization records and proof of income.