Traverse City News and Events

Great Start Readiness Program Reinstated For 2020-21 School Year

By Beth Milligan | Aug. 10, 2020

A one-year agreement will allow the Great Start Readiness Program (GSRP) to continue for the 2020-21 school year, Traverse City Area Public Schools (TCAPS) announced Monday evening.

TCAPS, the Traverse Bay Area Intermediate School District (TBAISD), and philanthropic partners - led by the Grand Traverse Regional Community Foundation and Rotary Charities - have comitted to a one-year agreement to ensure existing slots remain available for area students in GSRP for the upcoming school year. TCAPS board members had voted in June to cut the district's funding for the program, leaving it up to other local providers to step up and administer the free preschool program.

The Community Foundation and other philanthropic partners have agreed to provide the funding needed to support TCAPS and the TBAISD in providing GSRP programming for 2020-21. Contributors include the Community Foundation, the Foundation’s Urgent Needs Fund, Dan Edson/President American Proficiency Institute, United Way of NWMI, the Oleson Foundation, the Art and Mary Schmuckal Family Foundation, and the Biederman Family Foundation.

Under the agreement, TCAPS will operate three GSRP preschool classrooms, while TBAISD will run up to four classrooms in the 2020-2021 school year, pending approval by the TBAISD Board of Education. The TBAISD Board of Education will discuss the one-year agreement at their Tuesday (August 11) meeting. All of the GSRP classrooms will be located in TCAPS school buildings. In addition, TCAPS will recall three teachers from layoff with a right to be placed in a K-12 position for which they are qualified in the 2021-2022 school year. Four other former GSRP teachers have already been placed in other teaching positions in the district for the 2020-2021 school year. TCAPS will also recall GSRP instructional assistants based on student enrollment in the classrooms.

"We recognize the importance of early childhood education and know that when we work together, we can accomplish more than any individual organization can do alone," says TCAPS Superintendent Dr. John VanWagoner. "We appreciate the collaboration of our partner organizations, and as TCAPS committed to from the beginning, we are ready to be part of the solution for the 2020-21 school year. TCAPS also supports the community’s effort to find a sustainable, long-term plan for early childhood education in our region, whether through legislative changes, ongoing philanthropy, or other means."

GSRP is Michigan's state-funded preschool program for four-year-old children who have risk factors that could lead to educational failure. The program is administered by the Michigan Department of Education, Office of Great Start. Funding is allocated to each intermediate school district to administer the program locally. The GSRP state grant awarded to TBAISD is based on the number of slots filled by students.

The state funds $3,625 for every half day slot and $7,250 for full day slots, an allocation which has been the same since 2014. However, TCAPS notes the costs to run the program continue to increase. In contrast, the current per pupil funding allocation for K-12 students is $8,111. "This discrepancy in funding creates challenges for local school districts seeking to subcontract from their intermediate school district to provide the program," TCAPS said in a release.

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