The David Douglas School District is a step closer to providing preschool for all District families who want it. The District has been approved for 126 additional preschool slots through Multnomah County’s Preschool For All grant program.
The additional slots will allow David Douglas to achieve its long-standing goal of providing preschool programming at every elementary school in the District. One new preschool classroom will be created at Gilbert Heights, Gilbert Park, Menlo Park and Ventura Park elementary schools. Each classroom will provide full day preschool for 18 students.
“That will put preschool in every school,” said District Early Learning Administrator Kristi Byfield.
Meanwhile, the existing preschool classrooms will continue at Earl Boyles (3 classrooms), Mill Park (2), Cherry Park (2) and Lincoln Park (1 bilingual classroom). The classrooms at Cherry Park and West Powellhurst will also be funded under the Preschool for All grant, freeing up the existing cost of those programs for other purposes.
“It’s important for people to understand that adding one classroom (to each of these schools) isn’t enough,” Byfield cautioned. “We’re trying to get everybody in over a period of years.”
One way that the District will grow preschool space in the near future will be through the passage of our recent $140 million bond measure. Thanks to our voters, the North Powellhurst building will be remodeled to create additional preschool classrooms. The timeline for that project is not yet known.
The grant provides $15,750 for each of the 126 preschool slots per year, giving the District nearly $2 million per year to sustain the program. That will allow each classroom of 18 students to have one teacher and two instructional assistants. The grant provides additional funds for startup costs and other support services.
For each classroom, the Preschool for All grant pays for:
- A licensed preschool teacher, as well as two Early Childhood Development Specialists
- Family engagement activities
- Home visits
- Nursing services (via a contract with MESD)
- Professional development for staff
- $25,000 in start-up funds (West Powellhurst was our first Preschool for All classroom and it opened in 22-23; the others will open next fall). Examples of start-up items include learning materials, radios for staff, blankets for the children’s nap time, storage for learning materials, standards-based curriculum, furniture, play equipment, supplies, etc.
- Academic, play and hands-on learning materials including but not limited to: books, costumes, sensory games and blocks, puzzles, tactile letters, activity books, alphabet books, early math activities, arts and craft materials, magnetic letters, balls, sorting games and materials, etc.
- Breakfast, snack and lunch
But it won’t pay for all needs. “Playgrounds are going to be our biggest challenge,” Byfield said. She said that children 4 and under have much different playground needs than older elementary students.
The Multnomah Early Childhood Program paid for the preschool playground equipment for West Powellhurst this year, but the District is researching possible granting opportunities for age-appropriate playground equipment at the remaining sites.