Scranton Times: Ceremony held for new Mid Valley Head Start classroom
March 30, 2016

THROOP — State, county and local officials stressed the importance of pre-kindergarten education and celebrated the opening of a second pre-k classroom in the Mid Valley Elementary Center during a roundtable Tuesday.

“Only 50 percent of 3- and 4-year-olds in Lackawanna County have access to publicly funded high-quality pre-k,” said Ann Lynady, Head Start project director.

The roundtable at the Mid Valley Elementary Center, spearheaded by Bruce Clash, state director of the Harrisburg-based Fight Crime: Invest in Kids Pennsylvania, celebrated another 17 students now enrolled in a second pre-k classroom at Mid Valley. Roundtable participants included Ms. Lynady; Sam Ceccacci, executive director of the Scranton-Lackawanna Human Development Agency; Lackawanna County District Attorney Shane Scanlon; Gary Drapek, president of United Way of Lackawanna and Wayne Counties; state Sen. John Blake, D-22, Archbald; state Rep. Frank Farina, D-112, Jessup; and Mid Valley District representatives. They discussed facts and figures on how the new early education classrooms will benefit local students. Mr. Clash’s organization campaigns for “Pre-K for PA” to help reduce crime rates.

When Governor Tom Wolf released a partial state budget in December, $25 million went to pre-k Counts programs and $5 million to Head Start programs across the state. From that funding, the Scranton-Lackawanna Human Development Agency received $356,280 to educate 60 children under the state Department of Education-funded Head Start Supplementary Assistance Program, which targets low-income families. The agency also received $168,075 for 63 children — in both full- and part-day programs — under the department’s pre-k Counts program. Families earning up to 300 percent of the poverty guidelines are eligible for Pre-K Counts.

Besides Mid Valley, new pre-k classrooms also are open in North Pocono, Carbondale Area and Wallenpaupack Area school districts.

“This area is traditionally saturated with income eligible Head Start children. We always have a lengthy wait list,” said Ms. Lynady, who worked with Mid Valley School Board Director Donna Dixon to move the classrooms into the school.

“It’s a nicer marriage when the children are able to transition right into the school district,” Ms. Lynady said.

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