Ray Huard…. More children will get a chance to go to preschool under an expanding partnership between the Vista Unified School District and the nonprofit Educational Enrichment Systems.
Educational Enrichment Systems is renovating three classrooms at the school district’s Vista Innovation and Early Education Center, 838 Olive Avenue, to be used for a full-day year-round preschool and toddler program, said Robin Layton, Educational Enrichment System (EES) president and chief executive officer.
EES’ newest center will serve 2-year-old toddlers in one classroom, and children aged 3 to 5 in the other two classrooms.
“This has been a long time coming,” Interim School Superintendent Matt Doyle said at a recent luncheon, where plans for the new preschool classes were presented.
EES offers full-day preschool year-round from 6:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. , 250 days a year, at the David and Jillian Gilmour Early Education Campus, 735 Avenida de Benito Juarez, and at the Vista Child Development Center, 410 West California Avenue.
EES also partners with Vista Unified to offer part-day preschool for children between the ages of 3 and 5 at 11 elementary schools – Beaumont, Bobier, Foothill Oak, Grapevine, Hannalei, Maryland, Mission Meadows, Monte Vista, Temple Heights, Vista Academy of Visual and Performing Arts, and Casita Center for Technology, Science & Math.
The part-day programs at the Vista Unified elementary schools run from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. and from noon to 3 p.m., five days a week following the school district calendar.
“We want as many Vista children in a stimulating environment as possible,” said Celine Krimston, EES vice president and chief operating officer.
Among other things, Doyle said that preschool is particularly helpful for children who are learning English.
“More students who are English learners become proficient in English by first and second grade,” Doyle said. “That’s one of the big ingredients to students being successful, particularly in reading.”
Foothill Oak Principal Sandra Ceja said that parents have become more comfortable just being on campus, thanks to the preschool program.
“EES parents get involved and stay involved,” Ceja said.
Bobier Elementary School Principal Jennifer Golden said that she’s seen similar results.
“Our parent involvement has shot through the roof,” Golden said.
For the 2016-2017 school year, 421 children were enrolled in the part-day preschool programs and 142 were enrolled in the full-day programs.
Of those, 88 will be eligible for transitional kindergarten and 310 will be eligible for kindergarten, based on their age. Transitional kindergarten is for children who turn 5 between Sept. 2 and Dec. 2 and are too young for kindergarten, which is for children who turn 5 by Sept. 1.
The new EES preschool at the Innovation Center, tentatively set to open in September, is primarily for Vista children most in need. Qualifying families will be low-income, working families, Krimston said. Families can be working, looking for work, or going to school to qualify for the EES program.