Saint Paul Public Schools Pre-Kindergarten Program funding sources include:
- School Readiness State Aid
- Saint Paul Public Schools 2006 Referendum
- McKnight PEK Grants
- Early Reading First Federal Grants (2006 - 2010)
School Readiness State Aid
State aid was first made available to Minnesota school districts in 1991 to prepare children for kindergarten. According to Minnesota Statute, districts are required to submit biennial plans and annual reports to the Minnesota Department of Education describing how the following program requirements are met.
- Assess children’s cognitive skills at the beginning and end of the program to inform program planning and parents, and promote kindergarten readiness.
- Provide comprehensive program content and intentional instruction aligned with the state early childhood learning standards, focusing on children's cognitive, social, emotional, and physical skills and development, early literacy skills, and transition to kindergarten.
- Coordinate appropriate kindergarten transition with parents and kindergarten teachers.
- Involve parents in program planning and decision-making.
- Coordinate with relevant community-based services.
- Cooperate with adult basic education programs and other adult literacy programs.
- Maintain staff-child ratios of one-to-ten and maximum group size of 20 children with the first staff a teacher.
- Ensure teachers are knowledgeable in early childhood curriculum content, assessment, and instruction.
The Saint Paul Public Schools Pre-Kindergarten Program uses state aid to fund:
- Content coaching for professional development
- Assessment coaching
- Curriculum resource library materials and coordination
- Coordination with community-based services
- Bilingual family support and outreach
- Parent involvement
- Early Childhood Screening coordination
- Enrollment support
- Behavioral support
Saint Paul Public Schools 2006 Referendum
Saint Paul residents supported a referendum for early childhood education through June 2013. These funds finance the pre-kindergarten teachers and one assistant in Pre-Kindergarten classrooms. Referendum funds also subsidize transportation, classroom supplies and parent education.
McKnight PEK Grants
In 2004, the Saint Paul Public Schools was awarded a $2.8 million, three-year grant from The McKnight Foundation to fund the development and implementation of Project Early Kindergarten (PEK). In June 2007, The McKnight Foundation renewed its grant for an additional $3 million over three years.
The intent of PEK was to make significant structured and systematic changes in Saint Paul schools and childcare environments for the purpose of improving educational outcomes for low-income students, English language learners and/or Special Education students.
PEK links and partners with childcare centers, licensed home childcare providers and school district classrooms to provide academic content that directly aligns with what children will experience in kindergarten. By providing professional development centered on Saint Paul Public Schools' curriculum, PEK can directly and cost-effectively increase the quality of education received by 3 to 5-year-olds, thereby improving the outcomes these children have in kindergarten and throughout their school years.
PEK participated in an independent evaluation to study the effectiveness of the program. The Early Childhood Workshop instructional model, developed by PEK, is now standard practice in the Saint Paul Public Schools Pre-Kindergarten Program.
Early Reading First Federal Grants
Saint Paul Public Schools has been the recipient of two Early Reading First Grants:
- Children Have Opportunities in Centers of Excellence (CHOICE) 2003 - 2007
- Project Early Kindergarten - Early Reading First 2006 - 2010
These projects have been funded by the U.S. Department of Education’s Early Reading First program to transform existing early childhood programs serving at-risk young children into preschool centers of educational excellence that support the development of children’s language, print awareness, phonological awareness and alphabet knowledge.
Annual Progress Reports for Project Early Kindergarten - Early Reading First are available for: