Pre-pri­mary pro­grams gear­ing up

Cape Breton Post - - Cape Breton - BY CAPE BRE­TON POST STAFF news@cb­post.com

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.

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