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RL-B gets $25,000 award for early learning programs

By Erin Trester, Daily Globe

ROUND LAKE — The Round Lake-Brewster School District was recently named as a recipient of a Minnesota Department of Education’s Early Learning Scholarships Pathway II award.

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Earlier this August, the RL-B district received a Four-Star Parent Aware rating, which recognizes a high quality of prekindergarten and preschool programs, Head Start and child care within school districts’ attendance boundaries. The rating demonstrates an adaption to the latest approaches to teaching, and a commitment to daily activities and routines that help children learn and place a focus on children’s health and safety.

After receiving the four-star rating, RL-B applied for the financial award of $25,000 and was selected for it. The award and rating will help parents find programs that go above and beyond to prepare children for school and life, district superintendent Ray Hassing said.

“With this award money, we plan to use it to offset our costs for our preschool,” Hassing said. “We’re an all-day, every-day pre-school program, and we want to continue growth in our program.”

The Early Learning Scholarships program is designed to increase access to high-quality early childhood programs for children with the highest need prior to kindergarten in order to improve school readiness of all young children. The 2013 Legislature appropriated $23 million in the 2014 budget year for the program, with money to be distributed throughout the state as much as possible.

Previously, the award had been only given directly to families who also met the eligibility requirements. It became available to school districts in 2011.

“We’re really thankful to receive this award,” Hassing said. “We have seen such an increase in the kindergarten readiness skills of the pre-K students, and this award will help continuing that success.”

The Early Learning Scholarship award allows schools to:

- increase the number of eligible children that can participate in the early learning program;

- increase the length of program services, such as number of days a week or full-year programming; and

- increase the type, intensity and duration of services provided through existing programs for participating children.

“This award benefits all schools and can give schools additional funding, but it especially helps small schools like ours to continue our program and get kids ready for kindergarten,” Hassing said.

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