Oklahoma City school district offers all-day prekindergarten classes beginning Monday

District officials are expecting as many as 3,500 prekindergartners.
by Tim Willert Modified: August 2, 2014 at 10:00 am •  Published: August 2, 2014


photo - 
Cooper Stephens, 4, and his mom, Johnna Kirkland, look at a book Thursday in the pre-K room at Wilson Elementary in Oklahoma City. Photo by Sarah Phipps, The Oklahoman
  SARAH PHIPPS -
Cooper Stephens, 4, and his mom, Johnna Kirkland, look at a book Thursday in the pre-K room at Wilson Elementary in Oklahoma City. Photo by Sarah Phipps, The Oklahoman SARAH PHIPPS -

Like most parents, Johnna Kirkland is a little anxious about her son’s first day of school.

And Kirkland works at Wilson Elementary School in northwest Oklahoma City, where 4-year-old Cooper Stephens will attend prekindergarten starting Monday.

“It’s kind of nerve-wracking to send your child out into the world, even if he’s in the same building,” she said Thursday. “I’m nervous, but at the same time he’s going to be with teachers I know so that softens the blow a little.”

For the first time, Oklahoma City Public Schools is offering all-day prekindergarten at all 55 elementary schools.

Officials are expecting as many as 3,500 prekindergartners come Monday, when the classes are expanded from two and one-half hours to six and one-half hours.

The district has been offering prekindergarten classes since 1983. The program, however, didn’t take off until the MAPS for Kids school construction and renovation project added additional classroom space districtwide.

“All day makes a huge difference for those children who are under-resourced,” said Susan Bumgarner, a prekindergarten teacher at Wilson. “It certainly doesn’t hurt the children who are not under-resourced, either.”

Heronville Elementary School on the city’s southwest side is bracing for as many as 140 4-year-olds. By law, there is a 20-child limit per classroom. At least one teacher in each room must be certified in early childhood education.

“These kids are in a great environment,” said Pam Hibbs, the district’s director of early childhood education. “They’re building vocabulary along with pre-writing skills and pre-math skills. We have fewer children showing up in the at-risk category for reading when they reach kindergarten.”

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by Tim Willert
Education Reporter
Tim Willert is a native Californian with Oklahoma ties who covers education. Prior to moving to Oklahoma in June 2011, he was as an editor for FOXSports.com in Century City, Calif., and reported on courts for the Los Angeles Daily Journal and...
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