WIUM Tristates Public Radio

Keokuk Expands Preschool Program

Mar 31, 2012

The Keokuk School District is currently serving thirty 4-year-olds as part of its state-funded preschool program at Hawthorne Elementary. 

Superintendent Lora Wolff says demand was even higher as applicants had to be turned away during registration last year.

That fact prompted the administration to propose the idea of adding a second classroom for the 2012/2013 school year.  The extra classroom would expand capacity from 30 students to 80 students.

The Keokuk School Board has signed off on the plan after several weeks of discussion and consideration.  The move came after the panel agreed to cut more than $500,000 from the budget for the school year that begins this fall.

Dr. Wolff says the first step is to hire a new teacher and an associate for the second classroom.  She says the addition will allow for two sessions each day in each classroom, with 15-20 in each room in the morning and in the afternoon.

Wolff believes there is a demand for the program in Keokuk as she estimates 60-80 preschool-eligible students did not attend a program this year.  She says there have already been more than 50 applications filed for next year.

The school board has also agreed to move the preschool program from Hawthorne Elementary to the former Torrence Elementary.

Several school board members questioned the move since Torrence was closed because of declining enrollment.

Wolff says there is not enough room in Hawthorne for a second classroom, especially with its shift to a K-3 format next year.  She says Torrence is available because it will continue to house the central offices, so there is plenty of open space for preschool.

There are no income guidelines for attendance with the only costs being the district’s standard registration fee.  Wolff says parents or guardians will be required to provide transportation.