The TCRSB was the first of the province’s boards to complete the hiring process for the pre-primary sites that will start during the week of Sept. 25 and were announced in July.
The board has hired one supervisor to oversee the program, five lead early childhood educators (ECEs) – one for each of the five new sites in the Tri-County board – and five other ECEs.
Tri-County superintendent Paul Ash said the number of ECEs at the sites varies based on the number of students enrolled.
“If we have under 10 students than it’s one early childhood education in each site. Above 10 is two ECEs. Above 20 it’s three ECEs. Above 24 is potentially the start of another program,” he said. “We were quite pleased with the ratio. We think it allows us the opportunity to respond to the needs of each individual child as they come to that program.”
The five new pre-primary sites in the Tri-County board are Hillcrest Academy in Shelburne County, Weymouth Consolidated in Digby County and Carleton, Port Maitland, Drumlin in Yarmouth County. The sixth site is the existing Early Years Centre at Yarmouth Central School. It started operating on Sept. 6, which coincided with the start of the school year.
In total, 50 classrooms across the province in 43 different locations will offer free pre-primary programming. This includes 20 pre-existing programs for four-year-olds, including eight programs that are part of the Early Years Centres.
"Research shows the benefits pre-primary programming has for children," said Education and Early Childhood Development Minister Zach Churchill. "Providing every family with free, equal access to pre-primary levels the playing field for all children and gives them a head start on learning."
This is the first phase of a four year roll out of free, pre-primary programming that will be available to every Nova Scotia family across the province by 2020.
Churchill said on Sept. 5 that 915 children were registered for pre-primary in the province.
In the Tri-County board, Ash said at the board’s Sept. 5 monthly meeting there were around 70 kids registered for the programs being offered in Shelburne, Yarmouth and Digby counties. While pre-registration by the province ended on Aug. 31, Ash said parents can continue to contact the schools directly during September to register their children for pre-primary.
The province has said that children must attend pre-primary programs in their own school catchment.
Parents of children registered for pre-primary will be contacted directly by the school board for additional information about the year ahead.
Snacks will be provided but families must provided lunches for the children enrolled in the program. They must also provide transportation, although Ash said that may change in the future.
“The regulations now are for children five and above based on a weight restriction,” Ash said regarding children who travel on school buses.
“We’re not yet at a place where we can safely offer transportation for students, but we’re going to continue to work on it,” he said about discussions happening at the provincial level.
On Sept. 7 the Education and Early Childhood Development Department issued an update on the hiring process for pre-primary. Here’s where things stood:
• Tri-County Regional School Board: hiring process is complete
• Annapolis Valley Regional School Board: hiring process is complete with the exception of one position
• South Shore Regional School Board: hiring process is complete with the exception of one position
• Halifax Regional School Board: hiring process is complete with the exception of one position
• Chignecto-Central Regional School Board: interviewing for positions is ongoing
• Strait Regional School Board: hiring process is ongoing
• Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board: interviewing for early childhood educator positions is complete. Hiring process for the pre-primary manager position is ongoing
• Conseil scolaire acadien provincial (CSAP): has transitioned the existing program in the early years centre to a pre-primary program.
The CSAP has actually been well ahead of the game when it comes to offering education for young learners.
"CSAP’s pre-primary program is up and running. With the roll-out of the new program, one of our existing Grandir en français sites has been designated a site as part of the government’s program," explains CSAP co-ordinator of communications Stéphanie Comeau. "However, since 2005, we have been offering the program Grandir en français, a pre-primary program which has the same model as the model being implemented by the government."
Grandir en français is offered in all of the CSAP's school communities. For the 2017-2018 school year, the first day for students was Sept. 6.