Little ones go to old school to get ready for kindergarten

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Tuesday was the first day of school for some KCMO School District kids. The new Woodland Early Learning Community School just opened its door for the first time Tuesday for kids in Pre-k and Head Start programs. The kids there are part of a first of its kind program in the KCMO district, 280 kids ages 3-4 are all under one roof with one goal: getting an early start to their education.

For several years this old school building sat empty, but now it's once again filled with kids. They're from five schools in the northeast part of KCMO's district. The goal is getting them at or above Kindergarten level when they start school, and help kids get ready for school socially and emotionally too.

KCMO Schools Superintendent Dr. Stephen Green says this pilot program is the result of community partners like Mattie Rhodes, LINC, and the KC Public Library that are offering support services. So kids can get access to everything from medical check-ups to reading lessons all under one roof.

"So a student can be pulled out and they can work with them if they're having a difficult time," said Green, "and they can be reinserted after they pass through the tough stage rather than them not having intervention at all and then the disruption cuts across the whole class, so we have more immediate hands on interaction."

Head Start programs have been in the news lately because of federal spending cuts. But KCMO says it knew it had to find ways to make up the losses.

"We know what the consequence is for not doing this," said Green, "so we know this is a good investment and the return on this investment starts to show itself right away."

As an added bonus, Green says the program utilizes a school that had been closed as part of the districts downsizing several years ago. He says this is part of his vision for repurposing some of the buildings.

Depending on how things go this fall, two schools just like this one would open up within the next year or two. One would be for the midtown area and one on the district's south side.

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