PORT HAWKESBURY: Pre-primary programming will soon be available to students throughout the Strait regional school board (SRSB).

On March 7, the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development announced it will add 130 new pre-primary classes this fall in 87 school communities across the province, including Antigonish Education Centre; East Richmond Education Centre; H.M. MacDonald Elementary School; St. Andrews Consolidated School; Tamarac Education Centre; and Whycocomagh Education Centre.

“With the announcement of the six additional sites today, we will now be able to offer pre-primary in every P-8 school within the SRSB, so we have total coverage in the SRSB for pre-primary moving into September,” said board superintendent Ford Rice following the SRSB’s final regular monthly meeting on March 7.

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Last year, the SRSB expanded its pre-primary program from six to eight locations. Rice said all of the lead staff positions for the six new locations have been advertised.

“We want to get a jump start on that to make sure we get qualified individuals as the leads for our pre-primary sites,” Rice said.

Registration for the SRSB’s existing pre-primary sites has already taken place. Those who wish to register their children for the six new locations may do so during school hours on the week of March 19. The program is open to children who will be four years of age on or before December 31, and families must live within the respective school’s catchment area to be eligible.

“A lot depends on our registration, because that will have the ability to determine how many leads we need, how many other Early Childhood Educators we need, and those types of things,” said Rice.

Rice said he is confident that SRSB has appropriate spaces in all of its schools for the new pre-primary locations.

“A couple of schools will require some renovations prior to that, but it’s only March 7. Last year, it wasn’t announced till July, so we have a big lead time into that,” said Rice. “Our operations staff will be working diligently to make sure that our sites are up and ready for September.”

Rice said he is pleased that the opportunity to attend will now be open to more children in the Strait area.

“We’re extremely excited, and I would suggest that a lot of parents are excited today knowing that their children will have access to play-based learning as a four-year-old before moving into primary, facilitated by qualified early childhood educators,” he said.