Spots are still available for Bay District Schools Free Voluntary Pre-Kindergarten Program. There will be movement with the program when school starts again in August, but school leaders say until then, parents need to take advantage of the spots they have open now…during the summer.
Four-year old Emma O'Harra gets one last lesson of the day as she waits for her mom to pick her up from the summer VPK program at Tommy Smith Elementary School. It's a lesson Emma doesn't know it's getting her ready for elementary school.
"There is stuff to do, she gets to interact, make some friends. It keeps her brain busy, keeps her body busy and when she gets home she is not bouncing on the walls," said Emma's mom, Maria O'Harra.
In addition to giving O'Harra some quite time during the day, the program is free. The 300-hour curriculum is funded through the State of Florida.
"VPK is very important. It sets a foundation for lifelong learning to promote those early literacy skills, math skills, social studies and science skills and they actually do have to reach standards that the State of Florida has put forth," said Bay District's VPK and ESE coordinator, Jennifer Walters.
Walters says parents need to take advantage of the summer program.
"It has already started. It started Monday and we still have spots available," she said.
However, while the summer VPK program at Tommy Smith Elementary is scarce, come August the population at Breakfast Point Elementary will be at capacity, forcing school leaders to move the program to Arnold High School at the start of the school year.
"Because of space, because Breakfast Point is gaining another grade level there will be a Kindergarten through 7th grade school, so we will have four VPK classrooms at Arnold," Walters added.
The high school will house the VPK classes separate from the older grades and parent will have their own drop off and pick up area. The renovations at Arnold to accommodate the four and five year olds will cost the district nearly $29,000 dollars of Half-Cent Sales Tax money.
If you are a parent and don't want to wait until August to register your child, you can do so for the summer. The summer VPK program started on Monday, June 11th and will run until Thursday, August 9th. Registration is open all summer. You must apply for the program through the Early Learning Coalition and then register at Tommy Smith Elementary School.
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