September 10th, 2019 1:24 PM
By AUSTIN TALKS
Five Austin elementary schools are expanding their half-day pre-kindergarten programs to full day starting this week.
Four Austin schools – Oscar DePriest Elementary, Edward K. Duke Ellington Elementary, Howe School of Excellence and Sayre Language Academy – are receiving $150,000 each in funding to serve more children, while a fifth school – Lewis School of Excellence – is receiving $100,000.
The five Austin schools now offer a total of 140 full-day seats; in total, all of Austin's elementary schools have 660 full-day seats and 120 half-day seats, according to CPS.
Citywide, Chicago Public Schools will have more than 100 new full-day pre-K classrooms this year, with plans to add more schools the following school year. In all, CPS will spend about $20 million for the 2019-20 year and another $100 million to support further expansion for the 2020-21 year.
"In 2016-2017 when I became principal (at Sayre), I had one pre-K classroom, and it was half-day with 20 kids attending for about three and a half hours in the morning and then a different set of 20 kids attending in the afternoon," Folasade Adekunle said. "Really, it was any space that we could fit them in, so they were in a less-than-ideal space in the school."
Now Sayre will be offering a total of three classrooms that are fully renovated and equipped with new furniture, productive play areas and new books.
"It's a really well-thought out model. If we expect teachers to do X, Y and Z in different curriculums, in different units, we will also provide them with the resources they can use to do with it," Adekunle said.
Oscar DePriest also will have three newly renovated pre-K classrooms and opportunities for parent and community involvement.
"We have a parent mentoring program where parents [work] a couple of hours a day in a classroom, and they receive a stipend," said Oscar DePriest Principal Latasha Geverola. "We also use it as an opportunity to model for parents how to engage their students in conversations around teaching and learning so that when they're at home, it (isn't) foreign."
Tuesday was the first day of school for approximately 350,000 CPS students, but a possible teachers strike looms. The district's approximately 25,000 teachers, who've been working without a contract since July 1, could go on strike as early as Sept. 1, according to the Tribune.
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