Gwinnett County Public Schools to introduce new pre-K classes in August

Children participate in a hands-on activity with shaving cream at an early learning program at Winn Holt Elementary School in Lawrenceville on Jan. 16, 2020. In the 2022 school year, Gwinnett County Public Schools will begin offering daily pre-K at eight elementary schools. ALYSSA POINTER/ALYSSA.POINTER@AJC.COM

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Children participate in a hands-on activity with shaving cream at an early learning program at Winn Holt Elementary School in Lawrenceville on Jan. 16, 2020. In the 2022 school year, Gwinnett County Public Schools will begin offering daily pre-K at eight elementary schools. ALYSSA POINTER/ALYSSA.POINTER@AJC.COM

Students will be selected for the classes through a lottery

Gwinnett County Public Schools is launching a new pre-K program next school year that will be the first of its kind for the district.

This program will be for 256 students in eight elementary schools. Pre-K classes in schools have been exclusively for special needs students. Pre-K for other students are typically in locations such as churches or day cares.

“We put a lot of emphasis on the general ed pre-K and kids being ready for kindergarten,” said Joe Heffron, the district’s chief financial officer. District assessments found that about 54% of incoming kindergarten students are not kindergarten ready.

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Deputy Superintendent Nakia Towns said the demand for pre-K far exceeds the seats available in various programs.

“We’re hoping in the district that we can fill some of that gap by offering pre-K in our schools and address that 54% who are not ready for kindergarten,” Towns said.

Anderson-Livsey, Beaver Ridge, Benefield, Hopkins, Lawrenceville, McKendree, Nesbit and Norton elementary schools will have pre-K classes for students in their respective zones.

The school year will be 180 days and match the district calendar. School days will be 6 hours and 30 minutes. The district will provide also bus transportation.

Each school will have two classes of 16 students, who will be selected by a lottery at each school. The district will reserve some spots for the children of employees.

Lottery registration opened March 28 and will close April 25 at 5 p.m. The drawings will be April 27, and parents will learn if their child was selected by April 29.

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The pre-K program is open to children who will be 4 or 5 on or before Sept. 1, but priority will be given to 4-year-olds.

Children not selected in their school’s lottery will be placed on a waiting list to fill spots that become available.