Village Elementary School's Pre-K Program

Frequently Asked Questions

Why has the York School Department prioritized the  implementation of a limited public pre-K at this time?

Over the past several decades, research continues to support the importance of introducing young children, particularly ages 0-5, to language and literature-rich environments. Such experiences better prepare students for kindergarten by developing academic, cognitive, and self-regulatory skills (Johnson, et. al., 2022).  As has been shown in the literature, early success in foundational academic skills leads to stronger academic outcomes, decreased risk of dropping out of school, and broader post-secondary opportunities (Hadley, et. al., 2023). 

Unfortunately, not all students have equal access to pre-K opportunities, and a known disparity exists amongst students of varying backgrounds, especially socioeconomically.  Publicly funded pre-K programs, particularly those such as the well-researched Head Start programs, have attempted to address this divide.  In Maine, however, publicly funding pre-K programs continues to be a locally-based decision. Depending upon the impact of the funding formula, some districts may elect not to develop a pre-K program, thus leading to a demographic of students continually without access to critical early childhood academic experiences. 

The disparity exists in York where we have seen the increase in students enrolling in kindergarten without access to preK increase from approximately 10% to most recently, 22% in the fall of 2023.

What are the obstacles that York families face in securing access to pre-K opportunities?

In a recent survey, conducted by York School Department of parents of preschool aged students in York, 58% of families, who completed the survey, indicated that availability of programs was the greatest obstacle. Additional responses indicated that cost, scheduling and transportation were also barriers to finding programs for their children.

What are any additional benefits to pre-K students in the community?

At this time, early intervention services which are provided to students with identified disabilities through Child Development Services are not being delivered with fidelity due to vacancies of staff.  The York School Department will be able to provide these services to students through the Special Education Department which will submit these costs for reimbursement to Child Development Services. The opportunities to receive the required early intervention services will serve as a benefit to not only these students, but to all students by meeting needs at an earlier age. 

Students enrolled in the public pre-K classrooms will also receive access to the multi-tiered support system (MTSS) designed to provide interventions and enrichment for early literacy, math and social emotional skills.

What are the costs that the York School Department will incur in the development and daily operation of a limited public Pre-K program?

During the school year 2022-23, Village Elementary School currently has 7 classrooms for grade K and 7 classrooms for grade 1. With declining enrollment trends, Village Elementary School will restructure to 6 classrooms for each current grade level and 2 classrooms will be dedicated to the limited public preK. This maintains the current operating budget at Village for 14 classrooms resulting with proposed reallocation of staff. There are no additional salaried positions adding burden on the taxpayers. In addition to supplies that are already budgeted for within the 14 classrooms, there will be some additional costs associated with purchasing PreK specific materials and furniture not to expend $10,000.

What will the Pre-K program utilize for curriculum and what is the cost to the district

The district plans to implement the free curriculum available through the Maine Department of Education (Maine DOE Pre-K For ME) and Heggerty (Phonemic Awareness $567.00- Grant Funded. The new elementary math curriculum (Fall of 2024) may offer some resources for extension to preK to supplement the Pre-K for ME program.

Will the York School Department implement transportation for pre-K students in the first year of programming?

At this time, YSD is not going to offer transportation. While possible, placing 4 year old students on the bus is not preferred without harnesses. The grade span on the buses transporting to VES is K-4. 

*If a family is unable to transport and attendance is impacted by lack of transportation, some accommodations may be made.

How will the implementation of a limited public pre-K extend collaboration between the YSD and private pre-K programs in the community?

The goal of the YSD is not to be “the” preschool (we are not intending to be universal for all 4 year olds). We are hoping to be a pre-K in collaboration with the local preschools. Our goals include making sure that everyone who wants their child to access an early learning opportunity will have the availability to enroll somewhere. Additionally, we plan to work collaboratively to see fluid movement throughout the programs to best meet the needs of York’s 4 year old students. 

What will the schedule for arrival and dismissal be for the pre-K?

Students enrolled in the public pre-K will follow the Village Elementary School schedule. Students arrive between 8:25-8:40 am and are dismissed between 2:45-3:05 pm. 

How will students be selected for the program after receiving applications:

pre-K selection process

Application Timeline

March 4th - March 29th, 2024 - Applications Accepted

April 5th, 2024 - Families Notified

May 6th & 7th, 2024 - Pre-K Screening Dates (more info to follow)