The first days of registration for prekindergarten education within the Bartholomew Consolidated School Corp. indicate that the next class of students, who will enter pre-K in the fall, may exceed the number participating this year.
The school district began enrolling students Thursday for its Title 1 and Busy Bees programs and is continuing to enroll them with a special opportunity through Friday at Clifty Creek, Mount Healthy, Parkside, Richards, Rockcreek, Schmitt, Smith, Southside and Taylorsville elementary schools.
The school corporation serves 395 4-year-olds — 185 in Busy Bees, 170 in Title 1 and 40 in special education.
Superintendent John Quick said areas served by the school system have a total of about 900 4-year-olds this school year, which means about 44 percent participate in the public-school pre-K opportunities. In the meantime, about 350 receive full- or part-day instruction at private or parochial facilities, which means about 83 percent get some level of schooling.
As of Thursday, public-school parents had enrolled 177 4-year-olds to start pre-K classes this fall, which Quick said puts the school district on track to eclipse its current number.
Bartholomew County parents who were among the first to enroll their children in public-school prekindergarten programs for the 2013-14 school year said they were doing so to give their youngsters a head start in life.
For example, dozens of parents — some accompanied by the children they were enrolling — came to Parkside Elementary School on the first day of registration.
Jeanetta Martin said she wants to give her 4-year-old twin boys, Will and Chris, every possible academic advantage. That means enrolling them in prekindergarten, which is optional in Indiana but encouraged by the local school system.
She said the $24 she will pay per week for Title 1, a program that charges parents based on their income, is a great value and easily the best investment she could make for the money.
John Riley, who enrolled his daughter, Alexandria, said he also is confident prekindergarten is the way to go, given that his son attended such a program in Dayton, Ohio, a few years ago and came out ahead academically but also with good social skills.
Denise Sharpe, who has six children, said she wants her daughter Myra to experience the advantages of an early education that several of the girl’s siblings experienced before her.
“I’m convinced that without pre-K, kids will be behind in kindergarten,” Sharpe said. “You can’t afford that these days. Kids are expected to know more at an earlier age than before.”
Tiffany Franklin said that’s the reason she enrolled her son, Griffin. She said that if children don’t get a jump on their academic lives, they’re actually behind, because so many others take advantage of the school system’s pre-K program.
She said one of her other children, a son, struggled with speech when the family lived in Florida. But a good pre-K program made a clear difference by the time he reached kindergarten.
Jeremy Adler said his son, Carter, has faced medical obstacles and needs an early education so he can transition more easily to the next grade level.
He said he had heard good things about the local school system’s programs and concluded: “It’s a good value.”