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Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Preschool Options Montgomery County Public Schools (Maryland)


Occasionally I feel the need to do a very specific post to record some information. This is one of those posts. Here in Montgomery County Maryland, there is a program called PEP (Preschool Education Program). This is a special education program for students with IEPs (Individualized Education Program). The tuition is incredibly affordable, and the preschools are located at elementary schools.



As I was researching preschools for my daughter, this program, along with the Headstart program, and a preschool option at the high schools caught my eye. Now just to be clear, this post is directed towards the non IEP students. There is an entirely different system for the IEP students that the county assists with.

Let's face it, preschools are NOT cheap. I managed to find a reasonably priced one in the area (<$900 per year - message me for details), but my goodness it was difficult. They are few and far between.

With Caroline having a November birthday, she has an extra year before going to Kindergarten. She is currently in a 3's program that meets twice a week for 2.5 hours. Next year, she'll be in the 4's program that meets 3 days, for 2.5 hours. The year after that? Well our options are to find another program, or to repeat the 4's program that she'll be in the year prior.

So I started doing my research. We refuse to pay $3K or more for a school year. That seems to be the lower end of the programs around here in Montgomery County, MD. The one we are currently in is < $900 per year, so we'd rather repeat this, than pay an arm and a leg for another year elsewhere. We are also looking for something that has longer hours and perhaps a few more days to help better prepare her for the full day of kindergarten that is to come.

Programs I've identified in Montgomery County, Maryland (@Elementary Schools):

1. Headstart/PreK: This is INCOME based. I called and they quoted me a max income of around $26K per household for a family of 3. The school that offers this close to us is a 5 day program for 2 hours each day. They have 2 sessions (morning and afternoon).

2. PEP PILOT: This is special education and IEP based. They also include "typically developing peers" in the program, however. Which means that a handful of non IEP students get to attend as well. It appears that these program hours differ by school, but from what I have researched, most of them seem to be 2 day programs for about 2.5 hours, but some are 4 days. It seems to be very school dependent.

3. PEP Classic: This is also a special education and is IEP based. The IEPs are more significant than the PILOT program, however. In this program it is left to teacher discretion as to if they want to hold any spaces for typically developing peers. I found a school in Gaithersburg (Thurgood Marshall), that holds 3 spaces for typically developing peers (other schools may do this as well). The program is 5 days a week for 2 hours.

All of these programs are insanely affordable compared to non county options. Ranging from about $400-$900 per school year. As you can see, however, each individual school seems to have it's own days/hours/tuition/etc. Each school must be contacted individually. So, how to apply?

From my research, here's how to apply:

1. Headstart/PreK: Call 301-230-0676. This office handles the applications directly.

2. All PEP programs: Call 301-279-2058 for information, but you must apply to the schools directly. For a list of the schools that are participating, you can view this webpage:
http://www.montgomeryschoolsmd.org/departments/special-education/programs-services/preschool.aspx

Spaces fill up FAST for all of these programs, so it is essential to apply as early as possible. It is my understanding that transportation is provided in many cases, assuming you live in the school zone. The schools also tend to give anyone zoned for the school first priority.

We are in the process of contacting individual schools that we'd like Caroline to attend. It has been a tedious process, because MCPS does not just clearly outline the process online. I've had to talk with other moms about the process to figure it out. Nowhere on the website does the PEP mention that peer students without IEPs are accepted. This has all been word of mouth to figure things out, but from talking with teachers it is turning out to be correct information!

Now, I've gone through each staff directory of each school that we'd consider, and sent emails to each school requesting information on everything- application process, days/hours of the program, price, etc. None of this can be found on the county site or even on the individual school webpages.

It's absurd to me how difficult they make this, which is why I'm determined to record it here and help fellow MCPS moms out!

Early Child Development Program (@ High Schools)

In addition to the above programs, there is something called the Early Child Development Program, that is run through some of the local high schools. This program has preschool options at high schools and is the program we are most interested in. High school students help with the education process as a part of their career pathway.

This page shows what schools this is offered at throughout the county:
http://www.montgomeryschoolsmd.org/career-readiness/plans/childdev.aspx

Again, the tuition is insanely affordable (<$900/year). These programs tend to be 4 days of instruction, and about 3 hours, although some go a bit longer. Again, each program is different hours/days/tuition/etc. You must contact the programs directly through the schools and apply through the schools individually. They require a deposit, and spaces go quickly.

For us, the early child development program makes the most sense. We are looking for a program that is 4-5 days of instruction, and more than 2 hours long, so Caroline is better prepared for the long hours of kindergarten. All of these programs are amazing, however. Whether you are in need of financial assistance, IEP support, or just looking to find a great preschool, these are all great options. I love that our county provides these types of programs for families. I wish there were more of them and more spaces so more families could participate. What I don't love, is how difficult it is to get information, and how inconsistent things are (varying from school to school).

One day MCPS might have the resources to hire someone to manage a webpage for all of this (MCPS please hire this SAHM to get things organized for you LOL). In the meantime, I'll be updating this post with any specific information that I receive back from schools.

Specific School Information (as of 2018)

Child Development Programs
(not a full list as I could not find information on all schools)

Bethesa Chevy Chase

View more info at this link: http://www.montgomeryschoolsmd.org/schools/bcchs/academics/childdevelopment/preschool.aspx


Blake
Dates: October through May
Days: Monday through Thursday (with a few exceptions)
Time: 7:50am through 11am
Cost: $300/semester
View more info at this link: https://blakeprek.weebly.com/welcome.html

Clarksburg
Dates: October through May
Days: Monday through Thursday (with a few exceptions)
Time: 8:45 am through 1:20 pm 
Cost : $450/semester
View more info at this link: www.chsprek.weebly.com


Damascus
Dates: October through May
Days: Monday through Thursday and some Fridays
Time: 7:50am through 10:50 am
Cost: $550/year

View more info at this link:
http://www.montgomeryschoolsmd.org/schools/damascushs/departments/cte/child_dev/child.aspx?sid=21172



Walter Johnson
Dates: October through May
Days: Monday through Thursday and some Fridays
Time: 2 hrs and 20 min
Cost : $225/semester
View more info at this link:
http://www.montgomeryschoolsmd.org/schools/wjhs/departments/facs/

Magruder
Dates: October through May
Days: Monday through Thursday
Time: Morning session 8:40-11:05, Afternoon session 12:05-1:35
Cost: Morning session $225/semester, Afternoon session $150/semester
View more info at this link: 
http://www.montgomeryschoolsmd.org/schools/magruderhs/academies/education/preschool.aspx

Northwest
Dates: October through May
Days: Monday through Thursday
Time: ?
Cost: ?
View more info at this link: http://www.childdevelopment.nwhjags.com/

Northwood
Dates: October through May
Days: Monday through Thursday
Time: 7:45am to 12:45pm
Cost: $750/year
View more info at this link: http://www.montgomeryschoolsmd.org/schools/northwoodhs/about/preenrollment.aspx

Paint Branch
Dates: October through May
Days: Monday through Thursday
Time: 8-11:05am
Cost: ?

View more info at this link:  http://panthercubs.wixsite.com/mysite


Quince Orchard
Dates: October through May
Days: Monday through Thursday (with a few exceptions)
Time: 8 am through 11 am
Cost : $300.00/semester….$600.000 year
View more info at this link: http://qocougarcubs.weebly.com/

Seneca Valley
Dates: October through May
Days: Monday through Thursday (with a few exceptions)
Time: morning session 8:45 am through 11 am afternoon session 12:05-1:35
Cost : $225/semester for the morning session, $150 for the afternoon session
View more info at this link:
http://www.montgomeryschoolsmd.org/schools/senecavalleyhs/programs/childdevelopment.aspx
12 spaces available- a few spots are held for Sept-Nov birthdays


Sherwood
Dates: October through May
Days: Monday through Thursday (with a few exceptions)
Time: 8-11
Cost: $300/semester

Springbrook
Dates: October through May
Days: Monday through Thursday
Time: 8am-11 am
Cost: $300/semester
View more info at this link: https://sites.google.com/mcpsmd.net/springbrook-child-development

Watkins Mill
Dates: October through May
Days: Monday through Thursday
Time: 8-11am
Cost: $300/semester
View more info at this link: http://www.montgomeryschoolsmd.org/schools/watkinsmillhs/departments/childdevelopment/

Wheaton
Dates: October through May
Days: Tuesday through Thursday
Time: 7:50 through 11:50 am
Cost: $750/year
View more info at this link: 
http://www.montgomeryschoolsmd.org/schools/wheatonhs/departments/familyconsumer/

PEP (Preschool Education Programs)


Germantown Elementary

Dates: September through June

Days: T/Th or M/W


Time: 2.5 hours
Cost : $150/semester
Can enroll as a community peer (no IEP)


Thurgood Marshall
Dates: September through June
Days: 2 days per week (PILOT Program), 5 days per week (classic program)
Time: ~2 hours
Cost :  ?
Can enroll as a community peer (no IEP) in both the PILOT and classic programs here

Rockwell

Dates: September through June
Days: 2 days per week  (morning and afternoon options)
Time: ~2 hours
Cost :  $150/semester

Headstart (Income based programs)

The PreK Office at the county level handles all applications and matches students to their home schools. Call 301-230-0676 to reach them.




-Katrina


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