Governor Charlie Baker today visited the Lt. Clayre P. Sullivan School in Holyoke to tour one of the 45 new preschool classrooms that are opening this school year through the Massachusetts Preschool Expansion Grant program. Five cities received a combined total of over $14 million through a federal award to Massachusetts that is funding a year of high-quality preschool for 78 children in Holyoke and another 780 children across Boston, Lawrence, Lowell and Springfield. \u2028\u2028\n\n\u201cI am pleased to help welcome students to the new school year and highlight the expansion of the diverse early education and care system through this new pilot,\u201d said\u00a0Governor Charlie Baker.\u00a0\u201cThis program will help identify best practices and inform us of ways we can pave a seamless path forward to connect local public schools with non-profit pre-school programs. The goal is to ensure that more children have access to the educational resources they need to put them on an early path to success, and achieve proficiency in reading by the end of the third grade.\u201d\n\nThe five cities that are participating in the initiative have developed partnerships between their local public school district and community-based programs licensed by the Department of Early Education and Care, to expand the number of high-quality preschool classrooms serving 4-year-old children in their community. \u00a0The preschool programs are free for children whose families meet income criteria. The Preschool Expansion Grant funds support high quality program offerings through required design elements such as:\n\nInclusive full-day and full-year programming with low child-to-teacher ratios (10:1 or less);\n\tWorkforce development supports for educators, including individualized growth plans, joint professional development between the school district and community early education programs, and coaching and mentoring; and\n\tUse of highly credentialed educators who are compensated at a rate comparable to public school district salaries.\n\u0022The Preschool Expansion Grant\u00a0is supporting children\u0027s healthy development through an innovative, high-quality model of local partnerships,\u0022 said\u00a0Early Education and Care Commissioner Tom Weber.\u00a0\u0022Holyoke and the other communities are aligning programs and education systems, leveraging new and existing resources, and employing research-based strategies to provide more children with a high-quality pre-k experience that will serve as a cornerstone for success in school and life.\u0022\n\nThrough the Preschool Expansion Grant, Holyoke Public Schools partnered with Valley Opportunity Council and Holyoke-Chicopee-Springfield Head Start to open a new preschool classroom in four of their schools. These classes provide programming for the children from 8 to 10 hours per day.\n\n\u0022Students are the real beneficiaries of the collaboration that the Preschool Expansion Grant has fostered,\u0022 said\u00a0Massachusetts Elementary and Secondary Education Commissioner Mitchell D. Chester.\u00a0\u0022More high-quality preschools mean more students will be prepared for kindergarten, and that is particularly important in cities where families might not otherwise be able to access such opportunities.\u0022\n\nMassachusetts applied for up to $60 million over four years under the federal Preschool Expansion Grant\u00a0program, which is administered by the U.S. Department of Education, and received its full request for $15 million in the first year of the grant.