The Imperial County Office of Education is interested in taking over the California State Preschool Program at the Kennedy Gardens Elementary School, according to a letter dated March 22 between the ICOE and Calexico Unified School District superintendents.
Calexico Unified voted 3-2 to eliminate its preschool program during a tense meeting in February to save about $329,400.
Since that meeting, some have protested at Calexico Unified meetings in hopes of having the preschool program reinstated.
Calexico Unified Superintendent Richard Fragale said since the district’s preschool teachers don’t qualify for ICOE’s credentialing level, the preschool staff wouldn’t be hired back if ICOE took over so Calexico Unified is exploring any possibility that it could reinstate the program itself in order to keep staff.
“The kids are covered. We just feel a real loyalty and obligation to protect our staff,” he said.
Calexico Unified state and federal projects director Sherry Spencer echoed Fragale’s sentiments and underscored that she doesn’t want to give anyone false hope or prevent them from doing what’s best for their families.
“We’re trying to do everything we can to keep the world the same for our community including our employees,” she said. “We have an opportunity for the county to assume the preschool responsibilities, but we don’t have an assurance that they will be able to hire our employees, so we have the kids covered either way but are trying to do the best for our employees also.”
She said the district is looking outside the box for possibilities in funding for the preschool but is cautious on what the outcome will be.
ICOE Superintendent Anne Mallory wrote in her March 22 letter that ICOE is “willing to commit to assuming the state revenue for this program in order to operate the preschool program and continue the educational services for the children and families in Calexico.”
ICOE is “prepared to provide a high-quality learning experience for Calexico’s youngest students and provide them with a school readiness experience that will prepare them to succeed when they enter kindergarten,” Mallory continued.
While ICOE would assume all fiscal and program responsibilities to operate the program, it would communicate and collaborate with the California Department of Education and Calexico Unified for continued operations of the program as well.
“We understand that California’s economy and state budget have placed additional fiscal challenges for school districts across the state,” she wrote in ending the letter. “We are committed to operating the preschool program and continuing the early education services for the children and families in Calexico.”
Staff Writer Chelcey Adami can be reached at 760-337-3452 or email@example.com.
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