WRIGHT TWP. — Unable to secure a state grant, Crestwood School Board will likely mull funding a pre-kindergarten program on its own. The district had been fortunate enough to get some state Pre-K Counts money last year, thanks to a lack of students in a program in the Tunkhannock Area School District.
The issue will be discussed at a special meeting at 6:30 p.m. tonight at the high school.
The state awards the annual grants on a competitive basis, giving preference to programs that have existed longer, served more students and otherwise have a track record of success, Luzerne Intermediate Unit executive Director Tony Grieco explained. The LIU has been getting grants for three years, funneling the money primarily to Hanover Area School District.
Last year the LIU also got money for two Pre-K Counts classes — designed to help low-income students — in Tunkhannock Area, but the district only filled one of those classes. When Crestwood approached the LIU about a possible Pre-K program there, Grieco said, the state gave a green-light to the idea of transferring the unused Tunkhannock money to Crestwood.
This year, Crestwood and Tunkhannock Area opted to apply for a grants on there own, Grieco said. The LIU also applied and received enough money to help Hanover Area open another Pre-K Counts classroom this fall.
According to the state Department of Education website, Tunkhannock won a grant for the 2018-19 school year, but Crestwood did not. All told, nine programs won grants in Luzerne County for the upcoming year, including three school districts: Northwest Area, Greater Nanticoke Area and Hazleton Area.
King’s College also won a Pre-K Counts grant. The other local recipients were early childhood centers not directly affiliated with school districts.
Crestwood Superintendent Joseph Gorham said the district had applied for the grant independently because it would get more more money that way, and had expected to get the grant thanks to already having a Pre-K Counts program running for a year.
“I don’t know how the state can look upon that as a good thing for the school community, to give us something and then take it away,” he said.
The grant paid for furniture, a teacher and an aide, and served 18 students. Board members must decide if they want to pay for a teacher and aide again this year. Money was not budgeted because the grant was expected.
Tonight’s meeting was called to hire a new principal for Rice Elementary School, Gorham said.
Reach Mark Guydish at 570-991-6112 or on Twitter @TLMarkGuydish