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April 02, 2004

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Publication Date: Friday, April 02, 2004

New preschool opens at Castro New preschool opens at Castro (April 02, 2004)

Federal program caters to low-income children

By Julie O'Shea

Head Start -- a federally funded preschool program -- opened at Castro Elementary last week. The new class takes 17 low-income children off the Mountain View-Whisman district's extensive preschool waiting list, which has topped 200 families.

By fall, administrators say they hope to open two or three more Head Start classes at Castro. The free federal program aims to give low-income immigrant children a strong beginning in their education. The federal government provides these preschool programs in areas that have high poverty levels, said Kristi Marvin, program director for the Mountain View-Whisman district.

Parents can place their names on the waiting list by filing out papers at the school site and providing proof of yearly income, Marvin said.

Marvin said children who have preschool education statistically do better in kindergarten than those without the extra schooling. "They have more of an edge when they go into kindergarten," she said.

Head Start, which also provides lunch for the students, is a four-day-a-week program that offers morning and afternoon sessions. Classes run from 8 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. to 4 p.m. The district has secured $12,000 a month in funding for the last three months of the school year for Head Start. Marvin said the funding will likely increase for the new school year.

Head Start joins two other preschool programs at Mountain View-Whisman -- the federally funded Even Start program at Castro and the State Preschool at Castro and Slater Elementary.

There are four State Preschool classes at Castro and one at Slater. The district receives $300,000 a year for the state program, Marvin said, where there are 24 students in each classroom. The program runs five days a week from 8:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.

Even Start, which has one 24-student class at Castro, is a program parents participate in with their children. Besides offering educational services to the children, the federal program also provides English classes for the parents. Parents can also take classes through Even Start that prepares them for the GED, Marvin said.

The Mountain View-Whisman district currently receives $16,000 a year in federal funding for Even Start, which runs five days a week from 12:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.

The district preschool program takes children from ages 3 to 5 years of age. For more information, call Kristi Marvin at district headquarters at 526-3500.

E-mail Julie O'Shea at [email protected]

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