ACS could add Pre-K classes

Published 12:02 am Saturday, August 1, 2015

Andalusia City Schools could add a second K-4 classroom, and a Pre-K class for special ed students during the first month of the school year.

That’s the news Superintendent Ted Watson shared with board members in a special called meeting Thursday afternoon.

“We are not sure yet we’re going to get it,” Watson said, adding that the state department recently reopened the K-4 funding application process, and final determinations are expected in August, after Andalusia students return to school.

Previously, administrators had considered moving all K-4 students to the Woodson Learning Center (former Andalusia Middle School) if the system received funding for two K-4 classrooms. Now, they hope to leave those students who won seats in the first K-4 classroom lottery last spring at Andalusia Elementary, and establish two new classrooms at the Bright Beginnings facility.

Watson said school officials have been talking with Bright Beginnings administrators about using part of the facility. Initially, the discussion was about locating a K-4 classroom there. However, he said, the system has identified 12 pre-K students with severe special needs, including eight students who are autistic.

“If those 12 students started school in August, we’d need 12 paraprofessionals to help us,” he said.

Andalusia City Schools’ special education director and district administrator Sonja Hines said she believes that with an early intervention class, most of those students can be ready for a regular classroom when they enter kindergarten. The special needs students would be enrolled in a half-day program.

Hines said Bright Beginnings has already agreed that if ACS can put together funding for the special needs classroom, they will make space available not just for the two classrooms, but also for a sensory room.

“They could use that with their kids, too,” Hines said.

Hines said the system is required to serve special needs students from age 3 to 21.