Clearfield School Board Hears about Early Childhood Grant

CLEARFIELD – Cen-Clear Child Services is interested in teaming up with the Clearfield Area Elementary School (CAES) to apply for a newly released federal, early childhood grant, according to Bruce Nicolls, CASD director of curriculum, instruction and federal programs.

In recent weeks, a representative from Cen-Clear advised Nicolls about the grant opportunity, which requires the cooperation of an elementary school. If the grant application is approved, he said the CAES would at the minimum need to send representatives to an early childhood conference each year and to implement the Pennsylvania Kindergarten Entry Inventory.

According to Nicolls, he and CAES Principal Mary Michael Sayers had previously discussed sending staff to the early childhood conference. He said they had discussed implementing the kindergarten entry screening tool, as well. Nicolls said the upside now is these previously discussed programs would be covered by the grant if approved.

The purpose of the grant, he said, is for the funding to assist with innovations in early childhood programs. The maximum grant is for $75,000, he said, noting if approved a large part of the funding would go to Cen-Clear. He also noted that the grant is competitive, and there isn’t any guarantee that they’ll receive it.

When asked by board member Gail Ralston, Nicolls said if they receive the grant, the kindergarten screening tool would likely be conducted in conjunction with kindergarten registration with involvement from the CAES staff and guidance.

When Ralston asked about the early childhood conference, Sayers said it would be a “huge” benefit to representatives from CAES and Cen-Clear. She said they would be required to collaborate on a project together, and it would help them so far as early childhood transitions.

Board member Dr. Michael Spencer asked Nicolls if the kindergarten screening would include all incoming students. Nicolls said it appears that way in the grant’s guidelines and they’re hoping so, as it would allow them to get an idea of the needs of incoming kindergarten students.

Nicolls said they typically “wait and see” with the kindergarten students, as some who appear behind catch up to speed quickly while others do not. He said the kindergarten screening tool would be another source of information to help them determine students’ needs.

Spencer said he was OK with Cen-Clear and the CAES teaming up to apply for the grant. However, he believed they would need to figure out the logistics of the screening tool to run kindergarten registration in a timely fashion. Nicolls said it’s likely that some of their current kindergarten registration procedures would be absorbed within the screening tool.

If Cen-Clear/CAES is approved for the grant, the kindergarten screening tool would be implemented for the 2016-17 school year, he said. This, Nicolls said, would give them plenty of time to “hammer out” the logistics of the kindergarten screening tool.

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