Wicomico County Expands All Day Pre-K Program - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Wicomico County Expands All Day Pre-K Program

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WICOMICO COUNTY, Md. - After Wicomico County Public Schools received extra funding in this year's budget, pre-k classes are expanding for the school year.

"We have nine out of our eleven schools offering full day pre-kindergarden this year," Early Childhood Supervisor Melissa Eiler said. 

Eiler says that four new teachers were hired over the summer to lead the four-year-old students.  But space for those extra students in each Wicomico County school was a challenge.

"Space is always of want in Wicomico County. But we were so fortunate to have our schools come together and collaborated to provide classroom space in all of our schools," Eiler said. 

Salisbury Area Chamber of Commerce President & CEO Bill Chambers says it's wonderful that pre-k is finally becoming a priority, but the county is behind the curve.

"I think it was a long time coming that we fund above maintenance of effort, that investment above maintenance of effort has to continue and it has to continue to ramp up," Chambers said. 

The Chamber of Commerce collected donations from members on Monday to pack special goodies for each new teacher in the county.  Chambers says it's a way to show the support for all they do throughout the year for Wicomico County students. 

"Teachers in many cases are unprepared for the demands of the job and spend a lot of their own money during the school year to help enhance the student learning experience," Chambers said. 

Chambers says the county needs to seriously prepare for the upcoming Kirwan Commission initiatives that could require millions in local funding.  The Kirwan Commission is a state-wide initiative that will tackle teacher salaries and student resources, among other things. 

"So in order for Universal Pre-K to be a reality, in order for our teachers to be paid at a level that is commensorate with their education and skillset, the county needs to be ready to pony up for Kirwan. Kirwan is here, that train has left the station," Chambers said.

The Kirwan Commission is set to be discussed further during the upcoming general assembly session that begins in January at the Annapolis State House. 

In the meantime, there is still time to sign up children for the Wicomico County all day pre-k classes.  Anyone with a child that turned four before September 1 can register them for pre-k at the front office of any elementary school within the county. 

Delmar and Northwestern elementary schools are the only ones that will offer half day, rather than all day pre-k classes.

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