Farmington school board discusses adopting pre-K program


Farmington is considering being next in a growing list of Arkansas schools adding early education programs, although not required by the state.

FARMINGTON, Ark — For months, political candidates and lawmakers said in order to make Arkansas a better state, it starts with education. 

Although pre-K is not required in the natural state, Department of Human Services research shows that having early childhood education programs can have a huge impact on kids.

“In NorthWest Arkansas you have some of the highest quality early childhood programs in the state,” said the Director of the Division of Child Care and Early Childhood Education, under DHS, Tonya Williams.

She says districts like Fayetteville, Springdale, Rogers, Bentonville, Gravette, and more have early childhood programs.

However, the district is hoping to start a program next year.

“We are in the process of submitting an application to DHS to become a childcare center,” said a Farmington School official during the December school board meeting.

They discussed their goals of opening two classrooms for 4-year-olds. The district says it’s currently working on submitting an application to DHS.

“The problem with that is we don’t get to submit it for ABC funding until June,” said a district official.

ABC is also known as Arkansas Better Chance, a grant-funded program. It’s one of three ways schools could get money for a program. Williams says schools could also charge parents or use their own money.

“We want to receive funding, “the district officials said. “But understand that we may not receive ABC.”

This might make the program school funded, at least for the first year while they wait to find out if they’re ABC approved.

“Once we approve it and they get started,” Williams said. “I’ve seen districts start programs less than a month.”

In order to submit an application the district must get a headcount of how many preschoolers they plan to have.

“Then, it’s identifying a space,” said Williams

Right now, the district is looking at the Ledbetter building but could expand to other elementary schools.

Williams says U.S children in the programs also do better later on in life.

“It is evident, they’re better at math, better at literacy,” said Williams. “They’re less likely to be incarcerated, they’re more likely to go to college and have more income, and become a productive citizen.” 

With a pre-K program comes the need for teachers. Williams says the requirements for the teacher in the classroom vary depending on how it is funded. Some require a degree, while others require a certification.

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