Janesville School District trying to grow preschool program

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Nick Crow
September 11, 2015

JANESVILLE—Enrollment in the Janesville School District's 4-year-old kindergarten program has dipped in recent years, making district officials worry some residents aren't aware of the program.

"We've been over 600 for the past three years, but we're kind of dipping a little bit," said Angela Lynch, Preschool 4 Janesville coordinator. "We're down 10 or so kids the past couple of years, so we want people to know that this outstanding program is available."

Since peaking at 639 students in the 2011-12 school year, P4J enrollment has declined every year since, dropping to 623 last year.

An official tally for the current school year won't be available until later this month, but Lynch said the program has "more than 600."

The school district receives state aid for each P4J student, although at a rate 40 percent less than awarded for each K-12 student, said Keith Pennington, chief financial officer for the district.

Children aren't required to attend a preschool program, but Lynch said they benefit from enrolling.

"It's extremely beneficial," Lynch said. "The students that have not had an opportunity to be in a 4-year-old kindergarten program in Janesville stand out in kindergarten as not being as prepared academically, behaviorally, socially and emotionally."

Janesville's preschool program is in its eighth year. It is offered at 21 sites throughout the city. Of those sites, 16 are community sites, and five are elementary schools.

Students must be 4 years old before Sept. 1 to be eligible for P4J, which is a precursor to kindergarten, Lynch said. Students are not able to enroll early in P4J or kindergarten, she said.

"It is a no-cost preschool option," Lynch said. There's no cost to our families for kids to attend."

"We are preparing them for kindergarten, that is our job," she said. "This is to get them ready to rock and roll in kindergarten."

In Rock County, every school district offers a prekindergarten program, Lynch said. In Janesville, all sites offer a morning session, while some offer an afternoon session as well, she said.

"Our program is unique in that we have so many community sites," Lynch said. "A lot of districts have just school sites. We've embraced our whole community and have a comprehensive community approach, and that's what the state is looking for."

Students in the program work on preliteracy, premath and behavioral skills, she said.

"The biggest piece of P4J is the social and emotional development," Lynch said. "It helps them so they are prepared to learn as they get to kindergarten."

Lynch said the district works to give families options based on what the family and child need and where the family lives. No transportation is provided with the program, but many sites offer wraparound care, which is paid daycare in addition to P4J services, she said.

To qualify for state funding, the district must provide 87.5 hours of family outreach and events for families. One such event was Thursday night at the Rotary Botanical Gardens.

"It's a good opportunity for families to get involved in their child's education from the very beginning," Lynch said.



Students who turn 4 before Sept. 1 can enroll in P4J any time during the school year.

Parents can sign up their children for the program at the Educational Services Center, 527 S. Franklin St., Janesville.

For more information visit preschool4janesville.com.


-- Cargill Christian Preschool and Daycare

-- Community Kids Learning Center

-- Creative Children's Learning Center

-- Faith's Little Friends

-- Goelzer's First Step Nursery School

-- Hand in Hand Learning Center

-- Head Start at St. Peter's Church

-- Janesville Community Day Care Center

-- Janesville's Montessori Children's House

-- KinderCare

-- LSS Child's First Child Care and Preschool

-- St. Mary's School

-- St. Patrick's School Early Learning Center

-- St. Paul's Lutheran Early Childhood Center


-- YWCA Discovery Center

-- Adams Elementary School

-- Jackson Elementary School

-- Jefferson Elementary School

-- Madison Elementary School

-- Wilson Elementary School

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