SALINEVILLE-Preschoolers in the Southern Local School District will be receiving an improved education, thanks to state grant money.
Gov. John Kasich's budget bill, House Bill 59, set aside an additional $10 million for early childhood education in the 2014 fiscal year.
The Southern Local School District will be one of the county entities reaping the benefits of the grants, receiving a $32,000 Early Childhood Expansion Education Grant some time this year.
The grant will be put toward the district's preschool program which is operated through a contract with the Columbiana County Educational Service Center. According to the Ohio Department of Education, the grant is especially meant to aid children with developmental disabilities and those who are economically disadvantaged.
"We're trying to involve 3 and 4-year-olds with special needs but also typical students," said Southern Local Superintendent John Wilson adding, "It's going to help grow the preschool program we have."
Southern's preschool program is housed within the elementary's kindergarten wing and provides services to about 35 children, according to Wilson. Judy Hill, preschool coordinator with the Education Service Center in Lisbon said, the grant will allow the program to accommodate eight more students. She noted students will be selected based on their family's poverty level with those families at 100 percent or more of the poverty level receiving tuition free schooling.
The Early Childhood Education Program at Southern is a regular preschool program with a staff consisting of a certified special education early childhood instructor, a classroom assistant and a para-educator to assist special needs students, said Hill.
The program runs morning and afternoon half day sessions with classes consisting of eight special needs students and eight typically developing students, according to Hill. As part of the agreement Southern's school buses transport the students to and from school.
"Basically it gives them a head start on their school career," said Hall.