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Preschool board reaching out to schools, providers

Information sessions coming in January, sign-ups for schools in February

Dayton’s Preschool Promise Board turned its focus toward preschool providers Friday, approving a detailed handbook for schools and centers that want to be part of the expanding effort.

“We will be sending out the application and the handbook next week,” said Learn to Earn Dayton Executive Director Robyn Lightcap. “We have four information sessions planned, and we encourage providers to attend and learn more about how they can be part of Preschool Promise.”

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Those sessions will be held Jan. 23-24 and Feb. 1-2 in both Dayton and Kettering, the two communities that have been part of the Preschool Promise demonstration project so far.

In Dayton, funding will come from the income tax increase approved in November by Dayton voters. In Kettering, more limited funding will be available from the school district and Montgomery County.

Preschool providers that are approved by the program will be eligible for quality assistance — in which expert coaches provide curriculum, data, and planning support — and their qualifying students will be eligible for tuition assistance.

The board is still working through that sliding scale tuition assistance system, saying they plan to vote on the formal details at their Feb. 1 board meeting. In addition to the actual dollars on the sliding scale, discussions have included how to deal with centers outside the city of Dayton that serve Dayton students, and how to adjust tuition assistance when a preschool provider’s state rating goes up or down.

The board handled several procedural items Friday: approving its own bylaws and conflict of interest policy, preparing a request for proposals to build a robust website, and approving board leaders. Debbie Feldman will serve as chair, Anissa Lumpkin as vice chair and Michelle Riley as secretary/treasurer.

Riley said good communication with preschool providers during these early stages will be critical to the success of the program.

“We got a lot of push back about us not doing anything, in their mind, with the feedback (they gave),” Riley said, asking for a better process of follow-up. “I think at this point it’s going to be really critical because these are going to our champions going forward.”

Those schools and centers will have a Feb. 24 deadline to apply to be part of Preschool Promise in 2017-18, followed by a heavy March-April marketing effort to get families signed up for next fall. That marketing plan will be presented to the preschool board in February.

Local preschool leadership is also getting input from a new parent advisory board that met for the first time Wednesday night. Lightcap said that group will help the board understand what information parents need, and how best to deliver it.

“We’re grateful that parents have stepped up to help us shape this,” she said.

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