Some local students are getting an early start to school, thanks to a new preschool scholarship program offered by the Solana Beach School District.
“It speaks to the commitment on the part of our board of education to want to support all the children in our community,” Superintendent Terry Decker said. “The opportunity to provide that extra push the year before they enter kindergarten really means that we can ensure all of our students walk in the door in kindergarten ready to learn with all the foundational skills they need to be successful as they move forward.”
A total of 10 scholarships are being awarded through this year’s pilot program. With the scholarship, preschool students can attend the district’s Child Development Center, which currently serves more than 200 students and offers programs for toddler, preschool, and before and after school support and services.
The scholarship program was made possible through district funding for intervention programs.
“We have a very high-quality preschool program here at our Child Development Center, but it is a fee-for-service program,” Decker said. “We know there’s other preschool opportunities in the community but you can never have too many preschool opportunities for the kids whose families are challenged. We’re not looking to replace any of the current programs, we just want to add one more layer of support that’s available to families.”
The full-ride scholarship is available for students who are in the year before kindergarten. It is a full-day program that aligns with the school year.
Families must meet income eligibility requirements, which are the same requirements for free or reduced-price lunch. They also must live within the district boundaries.
“The idea is to give them a boost in the year before kindergarten, before they enroll with us, so that they have an extra advantage coming in the door,” Decker said.
In a previous interview, board member Rich Leib said he would like to expand the newly-launched program so more economically-disadvantaged children who qualify for free or reduced-price lunch would have the opportunity to attend preschool at the district’s Child Development Center.
“We’ve started to get those slots this year. I’d like to expand it,” Leib said.
“I’ve had a real good chance of seeing what programs work and don’t work,” he added. “The key for our area, for those that are economically-disadvantaged, is to enter into the school district as close as possible to everyone else. We need to make it a level playing field, and to do that, you need free preschool.”
Four of the 10 slots were filled by early September. To inquire about the scholarship program, call 858-794-7160 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.