HAZARD — Pre-school-aged children in Perry County will have another program available to them this coming fall after the Perry County Board of Education on Thursday approved a contract agreement with New Beginnings Learning Center, an early childhood and elementary education program through the Hazard Perry County Community Ministries.
Beginning in August, the board will provide an Interdisciplinary Early Childhood Education (IECE) certified teacher for a half-day session during the week at New Beginnings, said Adrienne Bush, executive director of Community Ministries.
“We’re very excited,” Bush said. “What it means is that we will be able to align our standards for kindergarten readiness along with public funded pre-school standards, and make sure that all of our kids, no matter what setting they’re in, are getting excellent preparation for kindergarten and beyond.”
Bush said contracting with other agencies for things like teaching positions is a new strategy she has adopted as executive director of a nonprofit organization that has suffered from increasing budget cuts in the last year.
“If we have a healthy mixture of different funding sources, that makes our program and the services we offer that much stronger,” she said.
Perry County Superintendent Jonathan Jett said the contract is something his district is also excited about because not only does it offer an employment opportunity, it also helps the district extend its reach in preparing the area’s youth for school.
“We want to make sure more kids get through the pre-school program before coming to kindergarten,” Jett said.
Bush said with the addition of the new teacher, the program will be able to serve 20 to 25 students in the coming school year, and she said she hopes after the initial pilot year of the contract is over that New Beginnings will be able to serve even more pre-school students.
“We feel that the program will do nothing but take off and expand the following year,” she said.
With the possibility of President Obama’s “Pre-K For All” federal initiative, which calls for mandatory pre-school enrollment, being implemented sometime in the next few years, Bush said adding another pre-school program through this contract with the county school boars will put the county in prime position to absorb any changes should the initiative be put into effect.
“I think this is probably the wave of the future,” she said. “We are thrilled with the board’s willingness to try new ideas and work with quality programs within the community.”