New Affordable Preschool Program in Medford

, Posted: Fri, September 6 2013 at 6:23 PM, Updated: Fri, September 6 2013 at 9:58 PM

The Medford School District is rolling out a new pilot program this year that will give more opportunities for younger kids to get a head start on their education.

An affordable preschool program at Jackson Elementary School will be kicking off at the beginning of October.

It's expected to be low cost. Parents will pay on a sliding scale depending on what they can do. The cost is an important factor when, according to Jackson Elementary officials, about 90% of students in the community qualify for free or reduced lunch.

Kelly Soter, Jackson Elementary's principal says they're trying to help families and kids by providing them early opportunities to succeed.

"70-80% of our kids who come in to kindergarten haven't had a high quality preschool opportunities prior to kindergarten and they're really starting far behind peers of their same age," said Soter.

The Family Neighborhood Center which will serve as the preschool room, will also be a place where families can come for parenting resources, internet access and a place they can spend time with their kids. But the room also plays a greater role.

"We have a clothing closet, food pantry, kind of a catch all needs. But [parents] can also come here and interact with their child we're going to offer a mom's club, parent child interaction group, story hour," said Soter.

She said they're still getting ideas. In addition, a community volunteer has offered to do parenting classes. At this point, officials said they have a lot of good ideas and are trying to figure out how to incorporate them and how to have families come in and utilize the space.

It's expected that there will be about 15 spots available.

The effort is in coordination with the Family Nurturing Center, Kids Unlimited, OnTrack and Southern Oregon Education Service District.   

If you're an interested parent, you can get information and put your name on the list at Jackson Elementary or the Family Nurturing Center.

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