Get Together for Kids Program soon available

The DASD Board of Education gave final approval for implementation of a community based four-year-old kindergarten program at their December 13, 2010 meeting.  The program, called “Get Together for Kids, or GT4K,” will be available to families on a voluntary basis beginning in fall 2011. 

According to Judi Ramsett, 4K Planning Coordinator, the “Model 3” community based 4K program is a collaborative partnership between area preschools, Head Start, childcare centers, and the DeForest Area School District.  Children will be enrolled in the DeForest Area School District’s GT4K program and be taught within the partner site locations. The community partners will employ a Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction (DPI) licensed teacher and educational assistant.  Children must be 4 years old on or before September 1, 2011 to be eligible for enrollment.  Each 4K program will use Wisconsin Model Early Learning Standards to guide the structure of the researched play-based, developmentally appropriate curriculum.

Children will be scheduled to attend a three-hour morning or afternoon session that will run Monday through Thursday, following the public school calendar (September – June).

Parents can arrange for optional extended/wrap around child care at some of the community preschool/childcare sites.  The 4K program is tuition free; however parents are responsible for childcare costs beyond the 4K program.  Childcare costs are site specific.

According to Ramsett, the GT4K program will include a strong focus on parent-school communication with regular family outreach workshops, activities and opportunities.  Professional development for all 4K teachers will be ongoing.

An Early Learning Committee made up of parents, DASD teachers, community partners, district administrators, principals, and public library staff, acts as an advisory group on 4K programming decisions.

District staff are holding Parent Informational Meetings on Tuesday, January 18 and Wednesday, January 26, 6:30-7:30 pm in the DeForest Area Public Library’s Community Room.   Parents will be able to register their child for the program at an Early Learning Fair/GT4K Registration event to be held on Thursday, March 3, 12:00 noon–7:00 pm at the Holum Education Center, 520 E. Holum Street.

Information will continue to be posted on the District’s website at www.deforest.k12.wi.us/gt4khome.  Questions can be referred to Judi Ramsett, 4K Coordinator, jramsett@deforest.k12.wi.us, 846-6556; or Ann Higgins, Director of Adminstrative Services, ahiggins@deforest.k12.wi.us, 842-6580.

The District has been studying the 4-year-old kindergarten program for over a year.  A task force, with representation from parents, school staff, and licensed child facilities, conducted an eight-month study in 2008 and 2009 to determine the feasibility of a four-year-old kindergarten program for DASD families.  In January 2010, the task force made a recommendation to the school board for a partial-day, community based program. Since then, extensive planning has been done for all aspects of the program.

According to Ramsett and Director of Administrative Services Ann Higgins, only six Wisconsin school districts offered 4K in 1980.  The most recent figures from DPI shows that as of the 2010-11 school year, that total increased to 350 districts, leaving only 64 elementary school districts without a 4K program.

Superintendent Jon Bales supported the 4-year-old kindergarten program, saying “this type of program will have significant positive impacts on student outcomes. The research and experiences of other districts suggest a high likelihood of success, making it a high value investment. In addition, these programs are designed to positively influence the financial well being of the district by increasing the overall student enrollment and increasing the proportion of district revenue that comes from the state rather than local taxes.”

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