As legislators discuss what to do with the current state-funded preschool program, Sen. Steve Sodders, D-State Center, decided to learn more about the program by seeing it in action.
Sodders visited a preschool class at Woodbury Elementary School Friday and talked with teacher Leah Miller and Woodbury Principal Sarah Johnson to learn more about how the 4-year-old voluntary preschool program works in Marshalltown.
The Iowa House has moved to scale back funding for preschool and Gov. Terry Branstad has supported cuts in the current program to save the state money. The program was started by former Gov. Chet Culver four years ago and allows for all families to send children to preschool for free.
"We'll be fighting to fund the program as it is," Sodders said of his group of Senate Democrats. "Every study shows that preschool gives these kids a leg up."
Sodders said he would like to leave it up to local school districts to decide whether to charge for preschool.
Johnson said the uncertainty with the future of the statewide preschool program has made it difficult to make plans for next fall at Woodbury. They are planning to have preschool registration begin in April.
T-R PHOTO BY ANDREW POTTER
Sen. Steve Sodders, D-State Center, reads a book with preschool students at Woodbury Elementary School Friday. Sodders made the stop in Marshalltown to learn more about the state-funded program which has been a big topic of debate in Des Moines.
"We're uncertain about what to prepare," Johnson said.
Marshalltown currently has preschool at three of its five elementary programs and has seen a huge increase in preschool enrollment with the state-funded program. Johnson said the benefits of the state funding have helped Marshalltown students get ready for kindergarten and beyond.
"We're providing a lot of students with school experience at an early age," Johnson said.
While at Woodbury, Sodders also learned about the dual language program at the school for the older grades where students learn both English and Spanish.
"What an absolutely great program," Sodders said.
Contact Andrew Potter at 641-753-6611 or firstname.lastname@example.org