Local

Cary School District 26 to bring back at-risk preschool

CARY – Growth in the number of low-income households in the village is part of why Cary School District 26 is bringing back an at-risk preschool program.

A recently approved staffing plan includes one full-time teacher and one paraprofessional for the program, which will be at Briargate Elementary School for students ages 3 to 5 in the district who are at risk of not attending kindergarten.

In total, the program cost will be $73,000, including the teacher compensation, new curriculum and classroom supplies, according to district documents.

Superintendent Brian Coleman said it's a program that existed in the district about six years ago, but was discontinued when the state grant funding stopped coming in.

"We've been waiting for the state to come back, but they haven't and we feel it's a need right now for the kids in the community who can't afford preschool," Coleman said.

District documents show that at-risk factors include homelessness, economic concerns, chronic illness/health concerns, low performance on screening, primary language other than English, history of domestic violence in the family and living in a foster care situation, among others.

"Most concerning over the last 10 years is the increase in low-income households in Cary, which has grown from 16.1 percent to 24.7 percent," according to documents.

Fewer students will be able to receive services from birth through age 3 because of recent state cuts to early intervention programs, district officials said.

The staffing plan, which also included new technology personnel as well as staff development and materials for the dual-language program, was approved with a 5-1 vote.

Member Ben Washow, who was the sole dissenting vote, did not immediately return calls for comment.

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