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Lawrence schools to offer free early childhood benefit for children of classified employees

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Posted at 6:37 PM, Aug 22, 2022
and last updated 2022-08-22 23:11:00-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Lawrence Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Anthony Lewis announced Monday as part of his superintendent report a free early childhood benefits for some district employees.

The district will use federal Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) funds to support free early childhood educational services and before- and after-school enrichment for the children of classified employees.

Classified staff are paraeducators and instructional support staff, food service and custodial personnel, and secretarial, clerical and technical services staff.

The program starts Sept. 6 and will provide early learning opportunities for three-and four-year-old children while supporting the recruitment and retention of classified staff to maintain operations and continuity of district services, according to a news release.

“Our community needs to look at more creative approaches like this to expand high-quality early childhood educational opportunities and recruit and retain employees,” Dr. Lewis said in the news release. “This should be a significant benefit to classified staff working in our schools. They will know that while they are at work, their young children will be building kindergarten readiness skills and receiving two nutritious meals in a safe and nurturing environment.”

The district included $955,000 in its ESSER III application to support two additional early childhood classrooms at Kennedy Early Childhood Center.

These classrooms will serve the preschool-aged children of classified staff on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays (8:00 a.m.-3:00 p.m.) and provide enrichment before and after school (7:00-8:00 a.m. and 3:00-4:30 p.m.) and on Wednesdays (7:00 a.m.-4:30 p.m.).

ESSER funds will support staffing the program with two certified teachers, an enrichment coach, and four instructional paraeducators.

The funds will also provide curriculum and classroom furniture, supplies, and materials, as well as any facility modifications required for licensure.

The district will offer this benefit to new and existing classified staff during the next two school years due to limitations on when ESSER funds may be used.

After the 2023-2024 school year, the program will end unless the district finds a permanent funding source to continue the program.