USD 470 soon will complete plans for a model that blends all district pre-kindergarten (Pre-K) programs for the 2016-17 school year.

This approach was authorized by the USD 470 Board of Education at its March 7 meeting.

It means qualifying 4-year-old students now will be in their neighborhood schools, regardless of whether they qualify for Head Start, special education or the 4-year-old program.

The programs still will exist, but all students will receive the same standard services and won’t be identified by program.

The new pre-K program offers half-day classes running Mondays through Thursdays.

“By blending our Pre-K programs, we avoid isolating and categorizing children based on income or special needs,” said Peg Dokken-Opat, USD 470 assistant superintendent of curriculum and instruction.

“Scientific research is showing that children in a blended classroom often have a stronger learning environment,” Dokken-Opat added.

“Many districts across the state have implemented a blended program and have experienced great success all around.”

The new USD 470 Pre-K program also is expected to allow for a smoother transition into kindergarten, shared resources and, ultimately, a cost savings for the district.

Four-year-old Pre-K screenings will take place in the first week in August at Lincoln Early Education Center, 600 South B St.

Students must be 4 on or before Aug. 31.

Parents interested in having their child screened for the Pre-K program should call (620) 441-2075.

This information was provided by USD 470 spokeswoman Alisha Call.