Culver School Now Offers Free Preschool Program
Niles Elementary School District 71 has received a $141,000 competitive grant from the Illinois State Board of Education to fund early childhood education at Culver School. The grant was awarded through the Illinois Preschool for All program, which provides free half-day preschool programs to children ages 3 to 5.
“We are very happy to receive such a significant grant,” said Superintendent John Kosirog. “Preschool can be very expensive for parents. The most exciting part of being selected for this program is that it makes our high-quality early childhood program free and accessible to all families who live in our district.”
Although Culver already offered the most affordable preschool program in the area, tuition amounted to $1,000 per year, paid over 10 months. Families already enrolled in preschool for the 2018-2019 school year will receive a refund of any money they have paid so far.
In addition to eliminating tuition fees, the grant covers registration costs, supplies and materials, daily snacks, field trips and parent education programs. The grant also makes it possible to expand the program by adding an extra preschool class that can accommodate up to 20 students, increasing total capacity from 60 to 80 children daily.
District 71 will continue to receive $141,000 for the program annually for five years, as long as the program remains in good standing and meets grant criteria, and Preschool for All funding remains in the state budget.
Research shows that preschool helps young children develop the social, emotional and pre-academic skills they need to succeed in school and later in life. The Culver program also includes parent engagement, comprehensive developmental screening for children, and a high-quality, research-based curriculum.
Culver’s play-based program focuses on developing the whole child and promoting social-emotional skills such as sharing and problem-solving with others. Without being aware of it, the children are constantly learning and practicing the skills they need to interact with others and prepare for a more formal classroom setting.
Preschool at Culver mixes general education students, English language learners and special education students in two early childhood classrooms. Classes run for two-and-a-half hours. There are two classes each morning on regular school days and two more in the afternoon. District 71 has added staff to accommodate the additional students. Teachers have ELL endorsements and are certified to teach early childhood and special education students.
“We believe in the importance of early childhood education to prepare students for kindergarten,” said District 71 Student Services Director Laura Guarraci. “With this grant, we will be able to take our preschool program to the next level.”
“This is a commitment from our board of education to provide free early childhood education based on best practices to families who need it,” Kosirog added. “We have a population that can really use that kind of a program and the state has recognized that need. We want to be a leader in this area.”
For more information about free preschool at Culver, call the school at 847-966-9280.