Big push for pre-kindergarten students at Fresno Unified

FRESNO, Calif.

Saturday, the district will hold a Pre-Kindergarten registration fair where it hopes to sign up around 500 kids.

Fremont Elementary School Teacher Julia Corley believes Pre-Kindergarten classrooms build a strong foundation for later learning. "A lot of times this is their very first experience away from home and we want them to love to come to school. We want them to feel that school is the best place ever."

Corley says students learn how to follow directions, practice good behavior and respect those around them in the Pre-Kindergarten setting.

"We provide a lot of activities. Art, language and literacy, math and science, grammatic play, music and our curriculum is geared toward the individual child," said Corley.

When her students leave at the end of the year, Corley says she can see a huge difference in how prepared they are for kindergarten compared to those who didn't go to preschool -- which is why she supports the district's new focus on early childhood education in an effort to close those achievement gaps.

Starting next year, Fresno Unified will expand access to Pre-K programs district-wide. Now, the district says only 42 percent of students entering kindergarten attended pre-school, and with funds from Proposition 30 now available, it's working to increase that number over the next few years.

"The goal is to hit 80 percent by 2014/2015 and so we want to increase every year, the number of slots we have available and the opportunities we provide for our students," said Maqeda Randall-Weeks, Office of Early Learning.

Assistant superintendent of early learning Maqeda Randall-Weeks says some of the spaces are available only if parents meet certain income requirements, but others have no restrictions. Her office is busy planning a preschool registration fair for Saturday, and she's hoping hundreds of families will turn out.

The Pre-K registration fair is Saturday, April 27th from 10 a.m. to 2 .p.m at Sunnyside High School.

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