Tyrone looks to expand K-4 program

In conjunction with the construction of the middle school expansion, the Tyrone School District is looking at expanding its K-4 program.
Last night at the monthly meeting of the TASD Board of Directors, assistant superintendent Joann Lang spoke of the importance of early childhood education.
“About 60 percent of children under the age of five spend part of their day in the care of people other than their parents,” said Lang. “For some children, day care means being fed and supervised. For an increasing number of pre-schoolers, school begins at age three or four with literacy and numeracy as the goal. Currently in 40 states, a pre-school program is part of the public school system.”
Pennsylvania is not one of those 40 states.
Lang said the investment in early childhood education will provide results.
“During ages four through six, children build the neural systems that are responsible for fluent reading,” said Lang. “This is also the time to teach phonemic awareness. According to research, low-income five-year-olds entering kindergarten know approximately 6,000 fewer words than a child who comes from a middle-income family.”
Teaching children during the early development ages also provide social benefits.
“When these programs were studied in a follow-up it shows that pre-schoolers are more likely to perform well on intelligence tests, pursue higher education, get better jobs, are less likely to be retained a grade and less likely to commit crimes,” said Lang. “It has been said that for every dollar you invest in children, there is a seven dollar payback.”
The goals for the K-4 program at Tyrone is to enhance the current program that is in place.
“This program will have a small class size, well-educated, professional teachers, a strong curriculum and parent involvement,” said Lang. “We are putting together a parent steering committee. We hope to have that ready to roll by early next year.”
The bottom line proven by the research is that high-quality education and care for pre-school children provides a tremendous return on the investment.
“When we started the limited K-4 program, 71 percent of students were below basic competence,” said Lang. “By the time those kids left the pre-K class, they scored 90 percent achievement, three percent efficient and seven percent at the basic level.”
When this program goes into effect, it will help defray $1.7 million from the cost of the middle school expansion.