Four -year-olds in Colorado can now receive 15 hours of free preschool with the rollout of universal preschool. One Denver metro school district has gone all in on expanding preschool to make it available at every elementary school in their district.
The Cherry Creek School District added or converted 54 new Pre-K classrooms, built 17 new playgrounds, and bought lots more tiny chairs and supplies.
We met up with Jayden Lyu when he was checking out one of the new playgrounds youngsters across the district will enjoy this new school year.
Cherry Creek invested $6 million to ensure families across the district could access preschool at their neighborhood school.
Jayden's mom Victoria Chen is excited for her son to start classes on Monday, Aug. 14.
"Well, first it helps a lot financially, especially as a working mom. And with this half-day tuition paid, which enables us to sign up for our after-school enrichment program. That really makes us happy," Chen said.
Stacey Peoples is the Director of Early Childhood Education for Cherry Creek, "This district said we're going to do it and we're going to do it right."
Building capacity to serve 3,000 preschoolers. So far about 1,600 children are signed up for Pre-K in Cherry Creek. The district doubled the number of preschool classrooms.
Making sure everything is right for the youngest learners was a massive undertaking.
Peoples said, "Fixing roofs and fixing walls and putting in carpet, building walls. We have a plumber that goes to every classroom to make sure the water temperature is right to keep kids safe. We have a locksmith that's changing the locks to make sure things are safe and that the kids won't get locked in bathrooms."
Jayden Lyu is ready to soak up knowledge. He already loves school and is looking forward to building new friendships.
His mom added, "I 100% believe preschool provides a foundational opportunity for children's growth and then helps develop you know, skills and emotions they need and for their futures and then to be better prepared for kindergarten. I just love it."
Fueling curiosity, building structure, language, and compassion. In 2020, Colorado voters said they wanted all kids to have the chance for an equal start.
"And all the way up to a pathway for purpose, whatever their purpose is, is what we can start with when they're four years old," Peoples added.
Cherry Creek hired 97 new preschool educators and 23 people to focus on special education, speech development and mental health, just for preschool.