Madison school district preschool expands, moves

By: Andy Kozlowski, | Madison - Park News | Published June 20, 2016

MADISON HEIGHTS — When Madison Elementary opened in early 2015, it combined Halfman and Edison elementaries, merging their students with room to spare. And it would appear the new school has been a boon for the district, with so many incoming students that it’s now two years ahead of where district officials thought it would be in terms of student enrollment.

This has left the preschool program feeling a bit tight for room, according to Madison Superintendent Randy Speck. So, starting with the new school year this fall, the preschool program will move from its current five rooms at Madison Elementary to 10 rooms at Halfman. This will also free up additional room for the K-5 students at Madison.

The new facilities will be called the Madison Early Childhood Center. Currently, only part of Halfman is occupied by the 130 at-risk teens in the alternative high school program at Madison Preparatory Academy. Those students will remain in their half of the building separate from the preschool’s half. The plan is to remodel the Couzens side so that it will have its own separate entrance to the building. The new addition will feature the same amenities as Madison Elementary, such as a safe and secure entrance featuring modern technology.

The preschool program includes the current Great Start Readiness Program, a state-funded program designed to better prepare 4-year-olds for kindergarten. And in the near future they will begin implementing Head Start, a federal program for kids 3 years and younger.

“Now we’ll have the ability to grow both of these programs to meet the needs of a wider range of families,” Speck said.

Head Start had been on hiatus for about three years. GSRP, meanwhile, has grown from just 16 kids back when it was at the Schoenhals building (now Madison Elementary) to 64 kids today. Speck attributes that growth to a number of factors.

“We’ve really exceeded our expectations for growth … and we’ve been really pleased for the families that have started their elementary school journey with us,” Speck said. “Part of it is due to our preschool program; part of it is the new facility; part of it is the programs we offer; and part of it is the people we have there. Preschool, place, programs and people — the four P’s.”

Peter Jablonski, the lead teacher for GSRP in the Madison school district, said the expanded preschool program is an opportunity to serve even more children.

“The early years in a child’s educational lives are very important,” Jablonski said in an email. “This building and these programs will help create the building blocks of educational success for every child that walks through the doors.

“It’s amazing to think that in time there will be children that will start in this preschool building and then graduate from Madison High,” he said. “This is a great opportunity for our preschool to expand. I’m very excited for the things that will be happening in our early childhood programs.”