By Alice Ortiz/Monroe Journal
AMORY – The Gilmore Foundation this week firmed up a partnership with the Monroe County Board of Education to bring preschool to county schools.
Gilmore Foundation Executive Director Danny Spreitler said the program will be a 4-year-old Pre-k GELI (Gilmore Early Learning Initiative) Promise School for Hatley, Hamilton and Smithville schools.
The GELI Promise School is committed to providing the highest quality early childhood development environment as measured by the Mississippi Quality Rating Improvement System.
Spreitler said early education is important as human brain development is greatest at very young ages.
“Some kids are behind in kindergarten and when they get behind, they don’t get caught up,” said Spreitler. “It is important to reach children as soon as possible.”
Spreitler said no child care is available in Smithville. The GELI Promise School would put a 4-year-old program on all campuses in the county.
“To do what we need to do, we will have to spend a quarter million dollars,” Spreitler said. “This is a partnership where you are allowing us classroom space.”
Gilmore Foundation will provide all materials and resources for the program. They will provide a janitor to clean, a service for linens, make sure the blinds meet requirements and that there is adequate lighting. The classrooms will be equipped for the small students.
The students will not be tested, but there will be an assessment for the 4-year-olds and an assessment to assess if the program is working.
It will be the responsibility of parents to get them to the school.
The Promise School will have the same hours and vacation days as the regular school except it will just have smaller students.
Since each campus class will be limited to 16 students, Monroe County Superintendent of Education Scott Cantrell said, “We need to decide how we want to determine which kids will go to this program.”
At the February board meeting, the board will decide on how to determine class enrollment.
“This is a win, win for us,” Cantrell said. “As dedicated as Gilmore Foundation is toward education, we are fortunate to have the opportunity to have this program for our 4-year-old kids in the county.”