Starting April 1, parents of four year olds living in Watauga County can apply for their children to attend pre-kindergarten classes, formally known as the NC Pre-K program, for the 2015-16 school year. The program serves children who will be four years old on or before Aug. 31, 2015, and who meet other eligibility standards established by the state.
All applications for NC Pre-K in Watauga County will be handled by The Children’s Council of Watauga County. Application forms will be available from the Children’s Council website (www.thechildrenscouncil.org/) and the parents and students page of the Watauga County Schools website (www.watauga.k12.nc.us). Paper applications will be available at the Children’s Council (225 Birch Street in Boone), Boone Pediatrics (579 Greenway Road, Suite 200, Boone), and the Gragg Education Center (Board of Education, 175 Pioneer Trail, Boone). All questions about applications should be directed to Hunter Varipapa of the Children’s Council at 828 262-5424.
NC Pre-K applications were handled by both the Children’s Council and the Watauga County Schools last year, but the Children’s Council has assumed full responsibility for program administration this year. Applications will not be accepted by the school system.
Another change in the program for 2015-16 is that health and developmental screenings are no longer required before children can be enrolled. However, the Children’s Council will provide a free screening on request from any parent of a child who will be be four years old on or before August 31st.
In addition to being four years old, children must also meet the state’s “at risk” criteria to enroll in the program. At risk criteria include low household income, developmental delays, and other factors.
Pre-kindergarten classes operate on the same schedule as other classes in the Watauga County Schools and children in the program have access to the same school bus service and meal services as other students. There are no fees for children served in NC Pre-K.
Space in the program is limited and families are encouraged to make alternative child care arrangements in the event their child cannot be enrolled. Parents of children needing full time care will also want to note that the afterschool program of the Watauga County Schools does not serve pre-kindergarten children.
There are currently pre-kindergarten classrooms at Cove Creek, Green Valley, Hardin Park, Parkway, and Valle Crucis. The sites are subject to change based on funding, but the current expectation is that the program will operate at the same locations in 2015-16. However, children living in any part of Watauga County can apply for and enroll in NC Pre-K. Children do not have to live in the attendance area of a school they attend for pre-kindergarten.