When I first read that the Orcas Island School District is entertaining opening a preschool program, Transitional Kindergarten, designed for 12 to 15 4-year-old children, I thought this to be a wonderful opportunity to have publicly funded preschool education available through the OISD.
As I processed the information, though, I had second thoughts. As an early member of ECEI (Early Childhood Education Initiative), started some 10 years ago, the mission was to bring the preschools on Orcas together, working collaboratively with the goal of improving the quality of their educators defined by state certification standards, improving accessibility, and assist those with financial needs, hopefully with long term sustainability. Currently, these goals have been achieved. My concerns with the possible OISD program is that it may have a negative impact on our current preschools by attracting students that can be served by them which could potentially impact their bottom line, potentially limiting services. Perhaps more important, the ECEI has a track record of excellence, unique to Orcas, and unlike any other preschool program in the state. And after 10 years of experience, it has demonstrated its sustainability. I wonder how sustainable the OISD program will be when the Covid funds are depleted. My point is that the OISD should work collaboratively with ECEI, avoid duplicating efforts, develop joint goals that serve our preschool children, finding common ground that supports these efforts. I support delaying TK for a year for these reasons.