The WSOS Community Action Commission dropped its Head Start program for next school year at Northwood's Olney Elementary School, but the district will partner with the Wood County Educational Service Center to continue offering preschool for low-income families.
Starting in the fall, the Olney preschool program will serve mostly special needs students in the Northwood district.
Northwood's special needs students, such as those who have delays in speech development or autism, now attend a preschool program in the Lake Local Schools district.
“It will be a good opportunity for our students and our community to be able to serve the special needs students right here,” Olney Principal Christie McPherson said.
The Olney program will have a morning and afternoon sessions, each with 12 students. About two-thirds of the students in each session will be special needs students.
Ms. McPherson said the school plans to hire a teacher with a master's degree to run the program.
“Our students will have a highly trained teacher, they will have a teaching assistant, and the classes will be small,” she said. “I think it really sets us up for success.”
Northwood administrators and the Wood County Educational Service Center will also take over the preschool at Lark Elementary School beginning in the fall. The program is now run by WSOS Community Action Commission as a Head Start program.
The Lark preschool will continue serving low-income families, but there will be more slots available for students whose parents can pay the full tuition, Lark Principal Sue Davis said.
The preschool will have morning and afternoon sessions, each serving 15 students, the same number as currently attend.
“The major focus was to get more district control over the preschool,” Ms. Davis said. “I think we will be better able to align our curriculum right down through preschool.”
Tuition for both the Lark and Olney preschools will be based on family income. The programs will charge fees on a sliding scale ranging from free tuition to a maximum monthly tuition of $125.
Parents can volunteer at the preschools to have some tuition fees waived.
The WSOS Community Action Commission, which now operates Head Start programs at Olney and Lark, announced last month it would close child-development centers in several area school districts.
Along with Northwood, programs in North Baltimore and New Reigel shut down at the end of the school year. Head Start programs in Bradner, Lemoyne, and Perrysburg will cut its two daily class sessions to one session in the fall.
Officials said the program cuts were necessary because of less state and federal funding.