LA schools to get pre-K funds

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By Bennett Horne

The Los Alamos School District found out Thursday it is one of 11 districts that will receive first-time funding for the state of New Mexico’s pre-K program.

The amount of that funding was to be announced on Friday, but school officials had not yet seen those numbers posted by press time.

New Mexico is adding an additional $10 million to the program for the 2018-19 school year, bringing the program to 11 school districts for the first time.

“We’re very pleased to have this opportunity to host the first New Mexico preschool program beginning next year,” said Karla Crane, the coordinator of student services for the Los Alamos School District. “We won’t know all the details about how much we’re going to be able to do until we see how much money we’ve been awarded, whether it’s going to be one half day, two half days, things like that. We just don’t have the answers to those questions until we find out that amount. As we receive more information on the specifics we’ll be releasing those details to the public.”

The state Public Education Department’s announcement means the opening of more than 1,500 additional pre-K spots to serve potentially about 6,800 students statewide.

With the funding boost, the pre-K program is getting $33.6 million for the next school year. The pre-K program will be present in 65 school districts and six state charters, according to the department.

The pre-K system consists of half- and full-day programs for 4-year-olds. Some programs are part of an elementary school and others are housed in separate facilities.

Los Alamos’ application, according to Crane, specifies utilizing Piñon Elementary School in White Rock as the location for its pre-K program because that facility has the most available space.

“The amount asked for by the district on its application should be enough to hire a teacher and an education assistant for pre-K for 4-year-olds,” she added. “This will be done with no cost to parents and there will be a set enrollment.”

The other districts receiving pre-K funding for the first time ever include: Animas Public Schools; Aztec Municipal School District; Carlsbad Municipal Schools; Clovis Municipal Schools; Hagerman Municipal Schools; Las Cruces Public Schools; Loving Municipal Schools; Moriarty-Edgewood School District; Reserve Independent Schools; and Silver Consolidated Schools.