WESTVILLE | Children in Westville will be going to school even before they're ready for kindergarten.
The idea is to springboard children into having more academic success once they reach kindergarten and beyond.
"It's exciting to know we're giving them a good ground floor to the rest of their education career," said Curtiss Strietelmeier, superintendent of the Metropolitan School District of New Durham Township.
An open house of the new pre-kindergarten program that started last month is scheduled from 5 to 7 p.m. Wednesday. Strietelmeier said there are day care centers locally but none with a focus on academics.
The program also involves Purdue North Central helping with the curriculum and providing student teachers to assist the lead teacher from Dunebrook, an organization near Michigan City that addresses issues such as child abuse.
The facility is inside a red brick house next to Westville School. It was bought by the school corporation for more than $100,000 and remodeled for classrooms.
Strietelmeier said nearly 30 students are in the program, which takes in both regular and special education students, who will be entering kindergarten next year or in 2015.
The cost is $25 a week but for parents who can't afford it the cost will be offset with donations from United Way and other sources, he said.
"We have some local sponsors in the community that are helping out," Strietelmeier said.
All of the students are split between morning and afternoon sessions.
In addition to getting children prepared to learn more quickly in school, the program should help bring up to speed kids who are lagging behind others in their abilities before entering kindergarten.
"We need to get those kids on a level playing field so they can move forward at the same rate," Strietelmeier said.
He said the program is costing the school corporation about $35,000 for the lead teacher along with operating expenses of the building.
However, that cost could be reduced to as little as nothing depending on the amount of donations raised.
Strietelmeier said parents must apply to have their children accepted into the program and that will start again sometime in the spring.