GJSD recipient of $180,000 Universal Prekindergarten Expansion Grant

Pre-K program will expand to three full-day classrooms for the 2022-23 school year, with room for 54 students

The Greater Johnstown School District was one of 31 school districts across the state to receive a Universal Prekindergarten (UPK) Expansion Grant, enabling the district to increase prekindergarten availability for four-year-old students for the 2022-23 school year. The $180,000 expansion grant will allow the district to add one additional full-day pre-K classroom with room for 18 students, bringing the total number of available slots in the program up from 36 to 54.

“One of our district’s goals has been to grow our pre-K offerings for this community,” said Nicole Panton, Director of Curriculum and Instruction for GJSD. “This year, we took an important step to shift into a full-day program, which is more beneficial for our students and provides a more flexible schedule for working families. Next year, we’ll expand the program even more, with the addition of another full classroom and the ability to educate even more students in our district.”

With the switch from a half-day program to a full-day program, the district saw an increase in pre-K applications for the 2021-22 school year. The program currently has room for 36 students, plus one full classroom for Head Start pre-K. With the increased interest from the community, the district ended up with a wait list of over 18 students this year – an outcome that Panton hopes to not repeat next year.

“Every child should have access to a pre-K education and by receiving this expansion grant, we are one step closer to making that a reality here in Johnstown,” Panton said.

Students enrolled in the Johnstown prekindergarten program receive free breakfast, lunch and snacks and have access to additional family support services through the district’s current partnership with Fulmont Community Action.

Superintendent of Schools Dr. William Crankshaw says the improvements being made to the district’s pre-K program will ultimately benefit the entire community.

“Historically, the prekindergarten program at Johnstown has gone through some uncertain times, but by finding unconventional ways to fund what we know is a critical program, we are starting to grow the program in a way that truly benefits more students and families in our community,” he said.

“Pre-K is an important first step in a young student’s career. It is where students learn how to socialize, make friends, share, and regulate their emotions, but it’s also where they learn the basic fundamentals of literacy, which provides them with an enormous advantage as they head into kindergarten,” he added.

Prekindergarten registration for the 2022-23 school year at Johnstown will start in February 2022. Details will be posted to the district website.

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