ACS expanding pre-K program

Alabaster City Schools recently added eight new pre-K slots at Meadow View Elementary School. (File)

Alabaster City Schools recently added eight new pre-K slots at Meadow View Elementary School. (File)

By NEAL WAGNER / Managing Editor

ALABASTER – Several more children will be able to participate in Alabaster’s CHAMPS pre-kindergarten program during the upcoming year, as the city’s school superintendent and Board of Education recently gave the go-ahead for the additional slots.

During a July 28 work session, School Superintendent Dr. Wayne Vickers and School Board members voiced support for Coordinator of Exceptional Education Dr. Keri Johnson’s plan to add eight more pre-K slots to the ACS program, which is entering its second school year.

The ACS CHAMPS program is open to 4-year-old students who reside in the ACS attendance zone, and is hosted by Creek View Elementary School and Meadow View Elementary School.

The MVES and CVES programs contain 18 slots apiece, and children are selected for the program through random drawings each spring, which typically draw significantly more applicants than there are spaces available.

The eight new pre-K slots will be added at MVES, and will pair the 4-year-olds with special-needs students from the Alabaster School System’s Warrior Center.

Johnson said adding the slots will allow the system to serve more pre-K kids while also benefiting the city’s special-needs students. The new classes will be made up of a majority of “typical” students paired with a few special-needs students, she said.

“The kids with special needs learn from their typical peers. We need to serve kids with disabilities alongside their typical peers,” Johnson said, noting adding the eight additional slots will come at “basically no cost” to ACS with the help of a grant.

Johnson said the additional eight pre-K slots were filled with 4-year-olds already on the CHAMPS waiting list, and said selected families were notified on July 31. She said ACS chose students from both the CVES and MVES waiting lists, each of which contained about 30 names.

“We just went by the waiting lists,” Johnson said, noting ACS contacted families based on their order on the lists.

Johnson’s plan to expand the CHAMPS program earned praise from Vickers and School Board members during the work session.

“That inclusion is at its best when you start them out at pre-K,” said School Board member Linda Church.