Local preschools to serve more children


By Sue Cody


Early Childhood clinic 1Preschool opportunities are expanding in Astoria and Seaside, thanks to the Oregon Legislature. In 2015, Gov. Kate Brown signed House Bill 3380, known as Preschool Promise, to launch publicly funded preschools in select regions.


“At preschool, children become exposed to numbers, letters and shapes. And, more important, they learn how to socialize – get along with other children, share, contribute to circle time,” writes Kathleen McCartney, PhD., dean of Harvard Graduate School of Education.


Some children have not had the opportunity to attend preschool. “There are families who don’t qualify for Head Start, but don’t make enough money to afford preschool,” says Clatsop County P-3 coordinator Dan Gaffney. “This opens the door for them.”


Astoria and Seaside preschools


The Astoria School District is partnering with Head Start, creating a preschool at Gray School, which also houses Head Start. The preschool serves students whose families are at or below 200 percent of the poverty level. The Astoria program is set up for 15 students, and is expected to be filled by Sept. 15.


Michelle Gardner is the Astoria preschool teacher, and will have two assistants. She previously taught at Lewis and Clark Elementary School.


Seaside School District is partnering with Sunset Empire Park and Recreation District to expand an already existing preschool. Shelly Saunders continues to teach the preschool and will have three assistants.


“It is important to get new kids into these preschools, not just move kids around,” says Gaffney. The whole aim of the program is to get more children ready for kindergarten by offering opportunities for those underserved populations.


Tying the preschools to the schools makes for a smoother transition for kids and parents, Gaffney says. The staff can also see who is coming into the K-12 program and be better prepared to serve them.


For more information and registration, contact:


Astoria: Astoria School District Office at Gray School, 785 Alameda Ave., 503-325-6441

Seaside: Sunset Empire Parks and Recreation District, 1140 Broadway, Seaside, 503-738-3311 ext. 125




The state Early Learning Division chose five applicants to pilot the program. This includes the Northwest Regional Early Learning Hub that serves Clatsop, Tillamook and Columbia counties.


The Early Learning Hub provides preschool dollars to school districts based on the number of kids who receive free and reduced price lunches.