The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

Iowa City schools to expand preschool to all elementaries for 2024-25 school year

Half-day options will be available at all elementary schools and full-day options are available as well at select schools.
Emma Calabro
The Iowa City Community School District sign is seen in Iowa City on Monday, March 4, 2024.

Starting this fall, all Iowa City Community School District elementary schools will offer some form of preschool in all 21 of its buildings, where it was previously only offered in 17 buildings.

 The recent decision to move sixth grade into middle school leaves fewer students in Iowa City elementary schools. As a result, the change has also allowed for 4-year-old preschool to be offered as a half-day option in every elementary school and as a full-day option at Grant Elementary in North Liberty, Lemme Elementary in east Iowa City, and Weber Elementary in west Iowa City.

Iowa City schools Executive Director of Elementary Schools Eliza Proctor said application numbers for half-day and full-day preschool have already quadrupled compared to last year. Normally, around 150 families put in applications for preschool in the fall, but the district has already received 425 applications since making its announcement.

With full-day options available in the north, east, and west regions of the district, families can now send their younger kids to school all day while they’re at work, which Proctor said lightens the load on a lot of parents.

Full-day preschool costs $650 a month, but half-day morning or afternoon options remain free for all students. Proctor also said outside partners will provide in-building child care for families who choose a half-day option but still want the flexibility to have their child in school all day.

“We just want to make sure everybody has access, so this is exciting to me that we’re taking down a lot of the barriers that some families have identified by having more options and having free options everywhere,” Proctor said.

At the Feb. 27 school board meeting, Proctor discussed options for families who can’t afford full-day preschool but need their children in school as they work. School board member Lisa Williams commented about the options for students who need financial support.

“Every single program for our preschools has the option for free and reduced tuition based off of income, which means we are offering a full-day free preschool program to our low-income kids next year, which is something that has been our board goal for years,” Williams said. “That is just really exciting and the result of so much hard work.”

RELATED: Iowa City Community School District continues planning for expansion of preschool program

Another big factor of bringing 4-year-olds into elementary buildings is incorporating the students with the rest of the building. Lemme Elementary Principal Ashley Mangan said she’s excited to see all the new preschool students in the fall become a part of the Lemme community and participate in school assemblies and traditions.

“Preschool isn’t a separate entity,” Mangan said. “It is who we are. They are a valuable piece of our community, so they will be involved in everything that we do.”

Overall, everyone in the district is enthusiastic about the addition and looking forward to furthering early childhood education.

“Early childhood [education] has my heart,” Proctor said. “I am a kindergarten teacher by trade, so this is really near and dear to me personally because I’ve seen the benefits as a teacher and then as the building administrator.”

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About the Contributor
Grace Olson
Grace Olson, News Reporter
Grace Olson is a first-year student at the University of Iowa majoring in Journalism and Mass Communications. She's a news reporter for The DI, reporting primarily on local government. She is from Denver, Colorado and worked on the pirnt publication from her high school prior to her work in college.