Jones County Pre-K Coordinator Keisha Pitts said children must be four on or before Sept. 1 to be eligible for the program and registration for the 2009-2010 school year will begin March 2 and extend through March 13. Following registration, Pre-K students will be selected by a lottery drawing.
Pitts said parents may register their children at Dames Ferry, Gray Elementary, or Wells Primary, anytime during school hours. She said Jones County is funded to provide Pre-K for 200 students. Wells Primary has 60 Pre-K slots, Gray Elementary 80, and Dames Ferry 60.
Pitts explained that students who live in Wells Primary district will attend Wells Primary School. Students who live in GES district and DFE district will attend classes at the Jones County Pre-K Center.
She emphasized the children must be registered in the school district in which they live.
“Some students with hardship exemptions attend another school, but children must be registered in the district they reside to be eligible for the Pre-K program,” Pitts said.
In an effort to accommodate various work schedules, each site will have after-hours registration days available for those parents who cannot complete the Pre-K application during school hours. After-hours registration dates are: Dames Ferry, Thursday, March 5 and 12 until 6 p.m.; Gray Elementary, Monday, March 2 and 9 until 6 p.m.; and Wells Primary, Tuesday, March 3 and 10 until 6 p.m.
The director also stated that last year several students were registered in more than one district, and if that occurs this year the child will be ineligible for the program. Any questions about the child’s correct district can be answered by calling Jones County’s bus lot at 986-6373.
Jones County’s Pre-K opened in 1994 and the first year was for at-risk children only. The next year the program was opened to all four-year-olds. The Pre-K program is funded by the state lottery and operated through the Georgia Department of Early Childhood and Learning. The state funds pay for the staff and supplies, and the school system supplies the building, pays the utilities, and maintenance.
The Jones County Pre-K is not the only state lottery-funded Pre-K in the county. Children’s Friend and HeadStart in Gray also have classes. The entire program is contingent on grant approval.
The lottery method of selecting students for the program in Jones County was successful in 2007 and seems to be more fair to the students and convenient for parents than the first-come process that was used in the past. At that time the county had one registration site, and parents literally camped out overnight for a place in line. Single-parent families and those not able to take off work were at a disadvantage with the previous method.
“After the lottery last year, we had enough children who were not selected to fill two more classes, but at this time we have only 13 remaining on the waiting list,” Pitts said.
Pitts said students registered after March 13 will automatically go on the waiting list.
“The lottery drawing will be held Friday, March 20. Applicants will be notified during the week of April 13 if their child has made the Pre-K list,” she stated.
Multiple births will be entered in the lottery drawing as one slot, but separate applications must be completed.
“Last year twins were pulled separately. This year they will be pulled together. That’s to keep one twin from being drawn and the other not being selected for the program,” the director explained.
Pitts said parents will receive an application packet during registration. The application may be completed at that time or may be taken home and returned before March 13.
She said applications cannot be faxed, and a copy of the child’s birth certificate must be attached to the application. A parent’s signature must be on the application for it to be complete.
Pitts said in addition to the Pre-K program, Jones County has a Program for Exceptional Children (PEC) for 3- and 4-year-olds that is not lottery funded. Students must qualify by need or diagnosis for that program.
For more information, contact Keisha Pitts, Pre-K coordinator, at 986-5384 or 986-3023 ext. 242, or Jenny Regula, resource coordinator, at 986-5384 or 986-3032 ext. 235.