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Board approves Early Childhood Programming Plan

ted last week to approve an Early Childhood Programming Plan. As part of the program, there will be a "2YK" program for the 2023-24 school year for students turning four on or before September 10, 2023, and an Infant/Toddler Care and Preschool Education for children of staff members.


According to a Facebook post from the district, the "2YK" program is intended for children the year before typical kindergarten enrollment and is based on the belief that optimal learning occurs when children are actively engaged in activities that have real-life meaning and application. "Children learn best by experiencing their environment through their senses, physical activity, and social interactions with other children. Feelings of competence and trust are developed through positive interactions with adults and peers," states the post.

Superintendent Rhona Uthlaut told the Voice last month that programming is being developed for children the year before kindergarten entry (2YK) to provide early learning opportunities supporting literacy and overall school success.

Uthlaut added House Bill 352 has been voted into effect and signed by Governor Greg Gianforte, providing financial support for Early Learning in Montana. According to Uthlaut, House Bill 352 provides for Policy 3100 – Early Enrollment for Exceptional Circumstances. This policy provides revisions to address the transition from early enrollment for exceptional circumstances to targeted intervention for reading proficiency as required on July 1, 2024.

"What this means for school districts is a substantial funding source to provide quality early learning opportunities for children in order to support and enhance literacy. The Three Forks School District received special grant funding from OPI to support the development of our Early Learning Program. The TFS District will also be able to collect ANB funding based on this year's programming for each child enrolled and is also pursuing additional partnerships and grant funding available within Montana," Uthlaut said.

At last week's meeting, Uthlaut reported that a recent screening for the program had 18 in attendance.

The Board approved hiring Kadie Warner as a 2YK Early Learning certified teacher and Melinda Blair as a teacher assistant.


According to Uthlaut, the Infant/Toddler Care and Preschool Education program will be self-sustained, and the district will charge staff members monthly fees on a 10 or 12-month pay schedule.

Infant/Toddler Care fees will be $742 a month for 10 months or $618 for 12 months. The costs for the Preschool Education Program will be $693 a month for 10 months and $577 a month for 12 months.

The district is also actively seeking additional funding and grants to offset the program's costs.

The Board voted to approve Camille VanOtterloo as Infant and Toddler Lead Teacher and Christal Moschetti as Infant and Toddler Teacher Assistant.