District to expand preschool, educate community

School officials, parents and Allen Lima Leadership at the press conference.

     Heritage preschoolers hols sign about expanded preschool program.       Banner advertising expanded preschool and registration event.

The Lima City Schools announced plans Tuesday to expand its preschool offerings and to offer transportation for preschool children.

School officials announced at a Tuesday press conference an effort to get more children enrolled in preschool by addressing barriers like transportation and scheduling that many families face.

Preschool children living within the district’s boundaries will be eligible for busing beginning next school year, and the district is adding more full-day options.

Citing studies showing that 90 percent of brain development happens between birth and 5 years of age, Superintendent Jill Ackerman said not nearly enough children are getting the early instruction they need.

According to the 2018 Ohio Early Childhood Race and Rural Equity Report, only 40 percent of children in Ohio come to kindergarten ready to learn. Once they are behind, Ackerman said, it is difficult to get them caught up.

”They often continue to lag behind their classmates both academically and socially,” she said. “Not getting that early classroom experience with a qualified teacher can negatively impact that child many years down the road.”

The district’s preschool program serves both typically-developing children and those eligible for special education services. Three, 4 and 5 year olds are eligible. Tuition is based on federal poverty guidelines and can be as low as $12 a month for the full-day program.

Full-day programs will be available at Freedom Elementary, Heritage Elementary, Independence Elementary and Unity Elementary. Heritage and Unity will also have half-day programs.

Students attend Monday through Friday, with times varying depending on the classroom and building. Students are enrolled August through May.

All classrooms are staffed by licensed teachers and paraprofessionals, who work with children on all areas of development: cognitive, language, social, emotional, physical and adaptive.

The program is a Five Star Step Up to Quality rated program. This is the highest rating possible and means the program has met quality program standards that exceed licensing health and safety regulations.

Walk-In Preschool Screenings will be held from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. July 23, at Heritage Elementary, and from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. July 30, at Unity Elementary.

For more information, call or email Angela Miller at 419-996-3427 or amiller@limacityschools.org. Or Jody Webb at 419-996-3692 or jwebb@limacityschools.org.

Community effort

Ackerman said the need in the community goes beyond just getting children enrolled in preschool. It is also about getting books in homes early on, educating parents and making sure families are connected to the help and resources they need.

“I challenge this community to come together to wrap itself around these children and families,” she said. “This is a community-wide concern that impacts the wellbeing of our entire community. And together we need to find a way to address it.”

The school district, with the help of members from this year’s Allen Lima Leadership class, will be at various locations in the community from 9 a.m. to noon Saturday, April 6, to talk to people and distribute information about preschool.

They will be at the following locations: Dollar General on Jameson Ave., Family Dollar on Main Street, Meat City on Kibby Street, Chief Markets in Northland, Ruler Foods on Elm Street, Lima Public Library, Lima YMCA, Fresh N Faded on Main Street, Black Lace Hair Salon on North Main Street, Superior Federal Credit Union on Kibby Street, and the Allentown Road Walmart.

**Superintendent Jill Ackerman will be at Ruler Foods.

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