Space, funding force Pikeland to focus pre-K program on 4-year-olds

Posted: Jul. 19, 2013 9:13 am Updated: Aug. 9, 2013 12:15 pm

Herald-Whig Staff Writer

PITTSFIELD, Ill. -- The Pikeland School Board has slashed its preschool program for the 2013-14 year.

The program adopted this week will offer two half-day pre-K classes serving 40 4-year-olds. The 2012-13 program served 80 3- and 4-year-olds.

"Serving 4-year-olds will be a good place to be with it," Superintendent Paula Hawley said. "You have them a year before kindergarten to get them in and get them ready to get a good transition."

The program will be full, with a waiting list, but Hawley said space and funding concerns forced the change.

"We don't have space at South School," Hawley said. "We have one classroom open."

South School, which houses the pre-K program, will have five sections of kindergarten and second grade and six sections of first grade filling its classrooms.

The district has seen enrollment growth at the lower levels. Each grade K-5 has 100 or more students. How that will impact the pre-K program in the future hasn't been determined.

"It just depends on what happens with space," Hawley said.

Lack of space was the biggest factor in the pre-K decision, but state funding is another issue. Hawley said the district has not heard about pre-K funding for the coming year.

Work is beginning on the district's tentative budget. A public hearing will be held at 8 p.m. Sept. 18.

Board members also agreed to have Pittsfield High School serve as an end point for a fiber connection through the Illinois Century Network.

A federal grant funds work by ICN to lay fiber optic cable from Interstate 72 to PHS, but a last-mile provider still is needed to connect customers to the cable. Pikeland now does not plan to use the new fiber connection.

"We've got great service and connection from Adams. We don't have a reason to change," Hawley said.