FCSD25 Early Learning Center Program Approved on unanimous vote

*Feature Photo: The audience at Tuesday night's Riverton School Board meeting broke into applause when the vote to proceed with the Early Learning Center was unanimous. (Pitchengine Communities) * (Riverton, Wyo.) - It's a go. The Riverton School Board unanimously approved the development of the Early Learning Center (ELC) and a Kinder Boost program during Tuesday night's meeting. The location of the Center, which is proposed for the present Aspen Park Elementary, will be decided on Marth 8th. When the vote was taken, the audience broke into spontaneous applause. Most of those present were teachers and staff members on the planning team for the ELC. The only decision left to make is what to call the pre-kindergarten program, now known as Kinder-Boost. That will come with the official development of the program. As explained by Aspen Learning Center Director Sheryl Esposito, the vision for the early learning center "is that it becomes a hub where children from birth through age six and their families can access the early learning and developmental opportunities that support and enhance their ability to succeed." Esposito said the intention of the program "is to house kindergarten from all in-town schools on one campus and to expand the center to provide access to pre-kindergarten programs and resources in partnership with other agencies." She also said the "center will provide equitable access for children and families by offering a one-stop-shop that is located within our community." It was noted that discussions have already been underway with partners such as the city's current child care centers, Child Development Services, Head Start, Public Health and many other agencies. Superintendent Terry Snyder said the funding for the program will not come from the district's general fund, with limited exceptions for minor remodeling and such. "We plan to use re-prioritized funds from our Title 1 program," which are federal funds based on a district's number of children on free and reduced cost meals. "We have one of the highest rates in the state for free and reduced thus significant funding comes with that." Snyder said the district's investment "will return dollars to us. If we take only a fraction of the Title 1 funds that will force us to do even more emphasis on early childhood. It is a necessary shift for us." Special Education Director Dallas Myers said the more time and effort spent on the front end (early childhood) eventually reduces the need for back-end programs, such as the Frontier Academy, which he said has been "tremendously successful" in helping young men and women get their high school diplomas. "We are doing this for all of our kids, not these kids or those kids, it's for all of our kids," said Chairman Carl Manning. The more webs we can put in the dreamcatcher the fewer kids will fall through. We have some big gaps right now, this is a great start." Board member Glenn Ogg said the district's staff and teachers "know more about what these kids need than anybody. We've heard from them and now we need to move forward with this to better our education system in our Riverton schools." #county10 #news