Preschool classroom renovations at the Howard Leisure Center in the are complete and staff members say they're looking forward to welcoming more young students into the district’s fourth preschool classroom.
Interest and registration numbers have been steadily increasing over the years, so a ceramics room has been converted to a preschool classroom, said Joe LoVerde, the park district's executive director. He also serves as a Niles trustee.
Renovations, including the purchase of new equipment for the classroom, cost the district about $15,000, LoVerde said. Major changes included installing a children’s bathroom and a two-way mirror for observations. Construction was completed this week and class begins Tuesday, September 6th.
About 200 children have been registered for preschool, which enrolls 3- and 4-year-olds. Each classroom is capped at 20 students, according to regulations by the Illinois Department of Children & Family Services, and classes have one teacher and one aide, LoVerde said.
One new teacher was hired and other preschool teachers were “moved around” to teach new classes, LoVerde said.
Classes are divided by age. All classes last a few hours a day and sections meet anywhere from three to five days a week, LoVerde said.
The district has four classrooms between its , Howard Leisure Center, and Oakton Manor facilities. Residents and non-residents can register for classes, although right now there is a waiting list for specific classes and locations, LoVerde said.
Officials expect interest and numbers to continue growing, LoVerde said, so they have already begun to think of additional spaces that could be transformed into preschool classrooms.
Almost all of the four-year-olds who complete preschool in the district go on to kindergarten the following year as 5-year-olds, said Maura LoVerde, a preschool teacher at Grennan Heights. Preschool staff members at all of the facilities work to prepare students for their academic future, she added.
“Parents are more in tune to the academic aspect of their (young) children’s lives,” Maura LoVerde said, adding that demand has been growing and parents in the area are seeking enriching programs with educational value for their kids.