The Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District will offer free preschool classes for children from low-income families starting as early as next month.
The three-hour classes will be offered at the district's five elementary schools. Two classes, one in the morning and one in the afternoon, are expected to open at Will Rogers Elementary School in February, said Kathleen McCreary, director of child and development services for the district.
Classes at Grant, Muir, Edison and McKinley elementary schools will soon follow, she said.
The new program is funded by a $388,857 state grant. Supt. Eugene Tucker announced the award at a school board meeting Monday.
"We're thrilled," McCreary said, "because this will serve a population that could otherwise not afford a preschool program. . . . When (these children) enter school, they will have the same readiness and preparation that other children will have."
The classes will focus on social, emotional and physical development, McCreary said. Teachers will also work on language skills, problem solving and decision making. A free lunch will be provided.
The classes are for 3- and 4-year-olds who live in district boundaries or have parents working or going to school in Santa Monica. The family must meet low-income criteria.
Information about the program is available at the elementary schools or by calling the state preschool coordinator at (310) 399-5865.