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May 15, 2018
Polk County Public Schools is exploring the possibility of transforming Gibbons Street Elementary into a new preschool center.
The idea was discussed with School Board members during Tuesday’s work session.
District staff have been searching for a way to better serve the Gibbons Street community, and have identified early childhood programs as a need in the area.
Gibbons Street Preschool Center would offer a variety of educational opportunities for children under kindergarten age. In addition to voluntary pre-kindergarten (VPK), the center would also feature Head Start programs as well as a pre-kindergarten program for students with disabilities. Gibbons Street Preschool Center would emphasize literacy and other kindergarten-readiness skills that would help prepare children to succeed in their K-12 education.
The option to convert Gibbons Street Elementary into a preschool has not yet been voted upon by the School Board. Gibbons Street parents and members of the public will be invited to share their thoughts during an informational community meeting, which will be scheduled in the coming weeks. Gibbons Street parents will be notified of the informational meeting via a phone call and letter sent home with their child.
Enrollment has declined at Gibbons Street Elementary in recent years. Enrollment went from approximately 300 students in 2015-16, to roughly 190 this current school year.
If the new preschool conversion is approved, Gibbons Street Elementary students would be transferred to other schools in the area that have available space. Bus routes to nearby schools are already in place, meaning transportation can easily be provided to Gibbons Street students. Gibbons Street students will also benefit by the ability to access the enhanced educational opportunities available at the larger nearby schools.
Gibbons Street teachers would either follow their students to their new schools or fill vacancies at other schools in the district. The preschool would continue to use existing support services staff.