Full-day pre-K to be offered at three Harford elementary schools this year

Three Harford County elementary schools - Deerfield, Magnolia and William Paca/Old Post Road - will have full-day pre-kindegarten for 4-year-olds this coming school year.

To be eligible, the child must turn age 4 on or before Sept. 1 and live in one those schools' attendance areas, Harford County Public Schools said in an announcement.

Parents/guardians interested in applying for the 2017-2018 school year should visit the school office during business hours as soon as possible to begin the process, according to HCPS.

While attending the full-day program, "4-year-olds will be immersed in learning experiences to help them develop and maintain the basic skills necessary for successful school performance," according to the news release.

"The goal of the program is to provide appropriate activities that address the literacy, cognitive, social, emotional and physical needs of young children. The curriculum is theme-based, and all content areas are integrated throughout the program," the announcement continues.

"Teachers initiate and sustain communication with parents and guardians by sharing information specific to their child's performance and progress in school, connecting home, school and community in a collaborative environment to better meet the needs of the child."

The new full-day prekindergarten programs are funded through the Maryland State Department of Education Federal Prekindergarten Expansion Grant.

Nineteen Harford County schools offer a pre-K program, though most of those are half-day, as only Deerfield, Magnolia and William Paca/Old Post Road will be full day this year.

"Last year, full day pre-k was available at Deerfield and William Paca/Old Post Road Elementary Schools," HCPS Manager of Communications Jillian Lader explained. "This year, federal funding has been made available to add full day pre-K at Magnolia Elementary while maintaining the programs at Deerfield and William Paca/Old Post Road."

According to HCPS, automatic eligibility for a prekindergarten program will occur when a child meets the age of entry guidelines and is at least one of the following: is from an economically disadvantaged background (i.e., eligible for free or reduced- price meal program as established by the U.S. Department of Agriculture) and/or is homeless or in foster care.

Children who do not meet the automatic criteria for eligibility will be considered for enrollment based upon availability of space and prioritized criteria. As with automatic eligibility, children must first meet the age of entry guidelines.

If space is available, parent/guardian letters for acceptance of students not meeting automatic criteria will be mailed mid- to late-August, according to HCPS.

More information on pre-K eligibility and the application process can be found on the HCPS website, www.hcps. org.

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