The community of Trapper Creek held a preschool organizational meeting on September 13. The meeting was attended by 13 adult community members, 6 preschoolers and a school district representative.
A hot topic of discussion was the differences in the Talkeetna and Trapper Creek programs. Talkeetna Preschool has a paid school district staff member teaching preschool, and it offers bussing to school. Trapper Creek preschool is completely run by volunteers and parents provide transportation. Trapper Creek Principal/Teacher Allison Wall explained that Talkeetna has a different funding formula than Trapper Creek because of the number of enrolled students. Talkeetna has 113 enrolled and Trapper Creek has 34 enrolled K-6 students. Funds are simply not available through the school district to support a paid position for preschool in Trapper Creek.
Preschool Coordinator and certified teacher, Kristie May Parsons, explained her research on preschool funding that agreed with Principal Wall and outlined grant applications that have been submitted for the preschool program. She said there are challenges to securing educational funding as the federal government and the State of Alaska do not hold preschool as an educational priority. Therefore, they do not have funds available for preschool programs outside of required services for children who are identified as developmentally delayed. Parsons is actively seeking funding for the preschool program.
Trapper Creek parents expressed a strong desire for the school district to hold a Child Find screening in Trapper Creek. Parents would like all preschool age children evaluated for developmental delays in order to see if there are enough children who would qualify for early childhood intervention services by the district. If there are enough qualifying children, the district would be required to provide services for the children, which would mean a paid preschool part-time teaching position.
It was determined that Trapper Creek Preschool will begin on October 4 and be held on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9:30-11:45 AM. Parents will pay a community schools registration fee of $20. Registration forms and a school supply list will be circulated beginning September 19 at the post office, library, and elementary school, through the school web site, and by contacting preschool teacher Kristie May Parsons at 982-3330.