CCPS partners with CSM to expand early childhood education program offerings – The Southern Maryland Chronicle | Team Cansler

The College of Southern Maryland (CSM) is leasing one of its buildings to Charles County Public Schools (CCPS), effective January 1, 2023. CCPS will soon utilize CSM’s former St. Charles Children’s Learning Center (CLC) to expand its pre-kindergarten program offerings. CCPS use of the facility will begin at the start of the 2023-2024 school year.

CCPS will lease the building on the CSM La Plata campus for two consecutive years, with an option to lease again after June 2026. CCPS will use the building as part of the school system’s focus to meet the Blueprint’s early childhood education needs for Maryland’s future legislation. One of the pillars of the blueprint is expanding access to early childhood education programs. By expanding access to quality early education programs, CCPS prepares students for school readiness.

CCPS currently offers a full day pre-kindergarten program in each of the 22 elementary schools. There are currently 847 children enrolled and nearly 220 are on a waiting list for placement. CCPS’ use of the former CLC room will provide additional space for pre-kindergarten students.

To be eligible for pre-kindergarten, a child must be four years old and a Charles County resident on or before September 1 of the upcoming school year. Proof of income is a requirement for all families applying for pre-kindergarten.

Preschool programs follow the criteria set forth in the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future legislation. Admission to pre-kindergarten is not guaranteed. When completing the online application, parents must select the correct stage application for their child. The three tier system has specific criteria to qualify. For pre-kindergarten level information, see below.

Level I – preferred student placement

  • Students whose families meet Tier I income guidelines.
  • Students who are homeless or in foster care.
  • Students who have a current, active Individualized Education Plan (IEP).
  • Level I students may be offered a pre-kindergarten place at a school outside of their school zone if their home school program is full at the time of acceptance.
    • Students can get transportation to and from the school outside the zone.

Stage II

  • Students whose families do not meet the Tier I income guidelines but fall under the Tier II income guidelines.
  • Level II students may be admitted to the pre-kindergarten if there is still space available after all Level I students have been placed.
  • Class II students can be admitted to pre-kindergarten after the start of the school year.
  • Level II students will be placed on a waiting list in the following order:
    • The child’s primary language is not English.
    • The child lives with an elderly grandparent or guardian (parent away from home), a parent has a diagnosed chronic illness that affects the ability to care for the child, or a parent is or will be deployed for six months or more be or become.

Stage III

  • Any student whose family does not meet Tier I or Tier II income guidelines.
  • Level III students may be placed in the pre-kindergarten if there is still space available after all Levels I and II students have been placed.
  • Level III students will be placed on a waiting list in the following order:
    • The child’s primary language is not English.
    • The child lives with an elderly grandparent or guardian (parent away from home), a parent has a diagnosed chronic illness that affects the ability to care for the child, or a parent is or will be deployed for six months or more be or become.
    • Order of dates of birth starting with dates of birth in September.
  • If space remains for Class III students, parents will be notified via email of program acceptance and placement will not begin until after the start of the school year.

The former CLC site at CSM is being renovated to accommodate the needs of the early childhood education program. “CCPS is excited to expand our pre-kindergarten program to more students in the Charles County community,” said CCPS Superintendent Maria Navarro, Ed.D. “When children have access to early learning opportunities like pre-kindergarten, they are better prepared to enter school.”

“We are thrilled to complete this MOU [memorandum of understanding] to support Charles County Public Schools and get our youngest learners off to a great start,” said Shawn Coates, Chair of the CSM Board of Trustees. “This is just another example of CSM’s broader goal of helping our students, our partners and our communities meet the challenges of individual, social – and in this case – legal changes that improve our education systems.”

Read more about the Early Childhood Education Implementation Plan here on the CCPS website.


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