Pre-primary programs gearing up
Cape Breton school boards are putting the finishing touches on several pre-primary programs that will open later this month.
School administrators were scrambling to hire support staff after the Liberal government announced the rollout of one of its key election promises in mid July.
The plan is to have a pre-primary program in place for all of the province’s four-year-olds within the next four years, at a cost of $49 million per year.
The government estimates the program will save Nova Scotia families upwards of $10,000 in child-care costs on an annual basis.
Deanna Gillis, spokesperson for the Strait Regional School Board, said an orientation day will be held Sept. 25 for students and parents at six new pre-primary sites from 9:30-11:30 a.m.
Classes will begin the following day — Sept. 26 — at Bayview in Port Hood, Cape Breton Highlands in Belle Cote, Felix Marchand in Louisdale, Inverness Education Centre in Inverness, along with St. Mary’s and Fanning Education Centre in Guysborough County.
School has already started for pupils attending existing programs at Chedabucto Education Centre/Guysborough Academy and East Antigonish.
“It’s going very well,” said Gillis. “We had to get the staff in place and get the space ready and then the government had indicated to boards that their hope was to have them all open by the end of September, so we’re working within that time frame and we expect they’ll be open that week.”
There are 79 students registered for pre-primary at the Strait board’s six new sites. As part of the program, parents are required to get their children to and from school, as they would for other childcare programs.
A child’s involvement in the program is at the discretion of their parents or guardians. As part of the program, there is one early childhood educator per 10 children in a classroom.
Cathy MacNeil, co-ordinator of elementary programs for the Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board, said interviews will be conducted next week for a program manager.
Three schools in the district — Glace Bay Elementary, Cusack School in Sydney and Jubilee Elementary in Sydney Mines —will be adding a pre-primary program. “As for the sites, registration is still occurring so the numbers are fluctuating,” said MacNeil. “Suffice to say we anticipate two rooms at each of our three sites with staffing just about completed.”
MacNeil said children at Jubilee school are attending half days and will move on to full days when the program’s second room is ready. The two remaining schools are slated to open the pre-primary programs by the end of September, although no date has been finalized.