Metro schools look to expand district's pre-K program - WDAM - TV 7 - News, Weather and Sports

Metro schools look to expand district's pre-K program

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NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) -

It appears Metro Nashville Public Schools leaders are moving forward with plans to expand the district's pre-K program.

After much research and numbers crunching, schools Director Dr. Jesse Register is ready to go public with his five-year plan.

Register will recommend that two elementary schools, Bordeaux Elementary in north Nashville and Ross Elementary in east Nashville, be converted to what he calls "pre-K model centers."

"We would really like to have 10 classes at Bordeaux and 12 classes at Ross, which would significantly increase the number of students that we serve," Register said.

The move would grow the district's pre-K rolls by about 10 percent by adding some 240 children to the program.

But to do that, hundreds of children will be rezoned.

Right now, both Bordeaux and Ross serve students in grades pre-K through fourth, so what happens to them?

The director says the move would address several needs, including better utilizing space.

Enrollment is down at Ross, but, more importantly, Register says the move will close the achievement gap.

"I don't think there's any single strategy we could adopt that could help more of our economically disadvantaged children get that leap, catch up and be ready to start school than investing in pre-K," he said.

Register said Metro schools can cover next year without increasing the budget, but he said in order for his five-year plan to work, it's going to cost $5 to $6 million down the road and support from the state.

"State legislature appears not to be receptive to expanding early childhood money. Davidson County can't wait on that. We have to move ahead. We have to serve our children," Register said.

Register plans to lay out his proposal at a series of community meetings in the coming weeks.

The school board is likely to vote on his proposal in February.

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