Fresno Unified has dozens of preschool spaces at schools throughout the city for children ready to enroll.
The extra preschool slots are part of a $7.9 million early-education allocation using Proposition 30 funds.
Fresno Unified preschool teacher Julia Corley has been able to expand her class at Fremont Elementary with the funding. "I have my usual assistant, but now I have another assistant in my classroom, and we've been able to add four more children," she said. "We've gone from 16 children to 20."
The district hopes to double preschool enrollment in the next few years. About 42% of Fresno's preschoolers are now enrolled.
"A large body of research has shown a direct connection between student academic achievement and participation in preschool programs, and it will make a great difference for the children in this city," district spokeswoman Jamilah Fraser said.
Corley, who has taught preschool since 1976, said children come from different backgrounds and different experiences -- some have never been read to by their parents or have been away from their mothers. But there's a common denominator in her classroom: "This is a very happy, happy place where they can come and learn to be little individuals and feel good about themselves and build their self-esteem," she said. "We want children to love to come to school."
Fresno Unified preschools are free. A provision in this year's state budget made it necessary for some school districts to charge a daily "family fee" of $1 to $8.88. Fresno Unified waived the fee for this school year.
Students can enroll and begin classes almost immediately. They must have turned 4 by Nov. 2, and parents must meet certain income requirements. Families should contact Nora Rocha in Fresno Unified's Early Learning Office at (559) 457-3682 for more information.
Elementary schools with space for preschool children are: Addams, Anthony, Aynesworth, Balderas, Columbia, Fremont, Greenberg, Holland, Jefferson, Kirk, Lincoln, Powers, Rowell, Sunset, Turner, Vinland, Webster and Williams.
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