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February 24, 2013

Stillwater preschool may add class this August

Springtime registrations could bring additional 4- and 5-year-olds.

LOGANSPORT — Stillwater Academy may add a fourth preschool class this fall to accommodate increasing enrollment, administrators say.

With 15 children already expected to move up to the single 4- and 5-year-olds’ pre-kindergarten class at Stillwater in the fall, board members last week said the preschool would need to recruit about five more children to split the group into two classes.

“We would have to have the right number of kids to make that feasible financially,” said Carol Lowe, lead teacher at Stillwater.

The private, nonprofit preschool, one of a dozen preschools in Logansport, has 30 children enrolled in two 3- and 4-year-olds’ classes and one 4- and 5-year-olds’ pre-kindergarten class this year. That’s more than the school has had in the last several years since moving from its former location on Helm Street in the late 2000s.

Preschool directors will decide on the added class in May after registration is under way.

Now renting two classrooms in the Area Five Agency on Aging and Community Services building on Regency Place, the school has two teachers and two aides as well as an office manager.

The academy board reduced tuition rates last year “which helped us a lot, I think,” Lowe said. It’s also in better financial shape than it’s been in for several years, she said during the board’s Wednesday meeting after the board’s financial report indicated a balance of just over $7,300 in savings and checking.

A combination of increasing enrollment and better budgeting helped get the preschool to a healthy financial state, Lowe said. “We try to be frugal with our money.”

Rena Sterrett, director of Reading Railroad, a local pre-kindergarten education organization, said having more preschool openings would benefit Logansport.

Upwards of 2,600 children under 6 years old live in Cass County, according to the 2010 U.S. Census. “The need for quality preschools in our area that’s affordable is very high,” Sterrett said.

Sterrett explained that “affordable, quality child care” is in short supply locally.

Besides the dozen Logansport preschools, Walton, Galveston and Royal Center each have a preschool.

“There are lots of kids out there who can’t attend quality child care because their parents don’t have the funds,” she said. Area Five’s Head Start preschool typically has a waiting list of children who qualify for its income-based enrollment.

So instead of preschool, said Sterrett, children are

attending day care centers or staying with other family members, “but they’re

not going to a preschool

environment that’s going to get them ready for kindergarten.”

Sarah Einselen is news editor for the Pharos-Tribune. She can be reached at sarah.einselen@pharostribune.com or 574-732-5151.

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