preschool adding time

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COLUMBIA - Starting this week, preschools in the Columbia Public Schools (CPS) district will add Fridays to the calendar, making the preschool classes go from Monday to Friday. Each school day will also be 24 minutes longer, and those times will vary by school.

This move comes after the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) implemented a statute that would provide financial aid to programs, but only if the school meets the minimum requirement for contact hours in a school year. The requirement this year is 1,044 hours.

Michelle Baumstark, the community relations director for CPS, said there are many benefits to be gained by switching to a five-day schedule.

"It provides more contact time between the students and teachers," Baumstark said. "We want students in the classroom learning."

Before the addition of Fridays to the schedule, the day was mostly spent by teachers performing in-home visits to the students.

The director of preschool for CPS Nicole Langston said students and teachers aren't the only ones happy about the change.

"The parents are high-fiving each other," Langston said. "They're very excited their child will be in good care an extra day a week."

Langston also said the extra day will allow parents to take an extra shift at work or save money on hiring a babysitter for that day.

Vicki Brown, a teacher at the Center for Early Learning North, said curriculum won't change with the extra day.

"It's not about thinking of more things to do for the week," Brown said. "It's about being more strategic in how I plan. With that extra day, the children may be more tired, so the planning becomes more intentful."

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