The Dorn Foundation awarded Sandusky Schools a $1 million grant in August, with half designated for bolstering preschool initiatives in the region.
The $500,000 preschool portion will fund the salaries of an additional preschool teacher and teacher’s aide for the next five years, as well as supplies and other related services, superintendent Eugene Sanders said.
“This is a big-time community effort that is providing a unique opportunity for kids in our city” Sanders said.
The Dorn Foundation’s gift addresses a pressing need in the local community.
About half of Sandusky Schools students don’t attend preschool, and as a result often struggle to achieve high test scores on state-administered tests, according to data compiled by the Erie County Family & Children First Council.
Many obstacles prevent parents from pursuing preschool, including high costs and lack of availability, transportation or information, according to the council.
“We believe the schools are central to the overall success of our city and our region,” said Mel Stauffer, president of the Dorn Foundation’s board. “There is no more important component of education in our nation than the need to focus on the preschool and early learning experiences for our children”
Sandusky Schools currently offers preschool programs at both Hancock and Mills elementary schools.
At Hancock Elementary School, about 80 total students attend two morning and two afternoon sessions, while about a dozen are still on a preschool waiting list. They will be the first to be enrolled in the new preschool classes.
The classes will take place in the building’s current art and music room, Sanders said.
The school’s art and music teachers will now travel to different classrooms to teach those courses, moving their supplies with them.
Overall, Hancock Elementary School will house more than 400 students in preschool through sixth grade this year.
“Our faculty and staff look forward to ensuring these children and all of the children in our community are prepared to do their very best,” school principal Kathy Pace-Sanders said.
The other half of the Dorn Foundation’s $1 million grant will establish the “Dorn Fellowship Series” at the district’s new school for gifted students, the Regional Center for Advanced Academic Studies.
The school is housed at the old Jackson Junior High School building at Jackson and West Madison streets and serves about 75 fourth-graders through sixthgraders.
The series will bring college staff to the center for various learning and enrichment activities as early as this month, Sanders said.
Want to enroll?
Parents who are interested in enrolling their 4-year-olds in preschool at Hancock Elementary School should contact Lynne Kaufman at 419-984-1210, ext. 1715, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The new preschool opens Jan. 21 and can accommodate up to 40 students.