Are you interested in starting a public preschool in your community? School districts may want to consider the following factors.
Community Approaches to Public Preschool
Involve your community in the decision to implement a public preschool, or four-year-old, program. Other child care, Head Start and nursery/preschool providers may be impacted. Determine the need in your community.
- How will your program interface and plan with the child care community (center-based, family child care or local Head Start programs) for a regionalized approach?
- What are the extended-day needs of children and families?
- How will your program address the needs of working parents?
- Include Child Development Services in the planning process.
- Public preschool community collaboration coaches are available to provide technical assistance.
What are your plans for curriculum? The Maine Department of Education recognizes that curriculum remains a local decision. Some factors to consider:
- How does it support play and active learning?
- What is the research/evidence base?
- How does it support early language, literacy and numeracy development?
- How does it support children with risk factors such as poverty, English learners and low maternal education?
- What are your plans for a developmentally-appropriate curriculum with an emphasis on play and active learning?
- Do your teachers have a child development background? The Birth to Five 081 teacher certification endorsement is required of all classroom teachers.
- Educational technicians must hold at least an Educational Technician II Authorization.
- Use the Early Childhood Learning Guidelines as a guide for best practice.
- Are you familiar with the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC)?
- Consider NAEYC Accreditation criteria as a goal. The National Association of Elementary School Principals recommends that these criteria guide implementation of programs.
- Are you familiar with Maine Roads to Quality Accreditation Facilitation Project and other professional development activities?
- What type of formative assessment process will you use to guide and individualize curriculum?
Learn more about preschool curricula:
- U.S. Department of Education, Institute for Educational Sciences: What Works Clearinghouse
- National Institute for Early Education Research
- Will there be enrollment criteria for a targeted population?
- Will you be able to serve all eligible children (universal access)? Is there a long-range plan to do that?
- Will there be an application process?
- What kind of information will you seek about children/families?
- Is your school structure adapted to the needs of younger children (e.g., provides flexible and open classroom space, reduces travel time on the bus and implements parent outreach activities)?
- Is there consistency with the Maine Department of Health and Human Services child care licensing rules in relation to needs of younger children (e.g., child/adult ratios, square footage requirements)?
- Will children be impacted by multiple daily transitions?
- Is your environment designed to be inclusive of both typically-developing children and children with special needs? Learn more
- Will your program include outreach and support programs designed to improve parent-school relations, school readiness and parenting skills?
- What type of supports will you provide to parents choosing to be home with their children?
Monitoring & Evaluation
- What criteria will you adopt to measure program outcomes?
- What nutrition components/meals do you plan to offer?
- How will you involve parents and other family members in program and policy decisions?
Possible Sources of Funding
- State Funding: Essential Programs and Services (EPS), Grades K-2 Weighted Funds
- Federal Funding: IDEA97, Section 619, Three- to Five-Year Olds; Part B, Section 611, Three- to 20-Year Olds.
- Title I, Title V, 21st Century (No Child Left Behind)
- Coordinate and/or partner with Head Start
- Public preschool funding
- Do you have a plan for vision, hearing and any other health or developmental screening?
- How will your program facilitate the transition of children between programs if necessary (i.e. preschool to child care)?
- How will your program facilitate the transition of children to kindergarten?
- Have you considered a preschool through grade three comprehensive approach to formative assessment?
As per Title 20-A MRSA, Chapter 215, the transportation component for a public preschool program can be waived. If transportation is not provided, how will this impact access to your program? If you do provide transportation, you are encouraged to follow federal guidelines established by National Highway Safety Agency (NHTSA).