Parents of preschoolers in-bounds at Murch, Janney and other Ward 3 schools have learned over the years that the District’s “universal pre-K” is anything but universal. There’s often more demand than space in their neighborhood school’s pre-K4 classes. And for the three-year-old set, pre-K3 has been non-existent at Ward 3 public elementary and charter schools.
Currently there is one location in Ward 3 offering a free public pre-K education for three-year-old District residents, and soon there will be two. Since August, CommuniKids, at 4719 Wisconsin Avenue in Tenleytown, has been providing a free bilingual pre-K3 and pre-K4 instruction to 40 students under the auspices of the 2008 Pre-K Enhancement and Expansion Amendment Act. For the 2018-2019 school year, the Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE) is providing funding for 88 students at that location. And CommuniKids will open a new location for 54 students at the University of the District of Columbia.
Mayor Muriel Bowser announced on May 15th that CommuniKids and Kiddie University would be awarded two available child care spaces in the District for free pre-K3 and pre-K4 classes. Kiddie University will offer a bilingual program at Deanwood Recreation Center. CommuniKids will take over an early childhood space in UDC’s Building 41.
“Given the wonderful baby boom that we are experiencing in Washington, DC, the need for childcare slots continues to grow,” said Mayor Bowser at a May 15th event at CommuniKids in Tenleytown.
Speaking at the same event, State Superintendent of Education Hanseul Kang noted the “real need” in Ward 3 for pre-K3 spots. And April Massey, the dean of UDC’s College of Arts and Sciences, said the home of the Firebirds is excited to welcome the little ones. She says they have historically been called “Fireflies.”
“We have had an early childhood center on the campus for some time,” Massey said. “You are inheriting a space that is absolutely lovely.”
The UDC CommuniKids location will hire 13 staff members and partner with UDC’s early childhood education program to provide hands-on experience to graduate and undergraduate students.
CommuniKids co-founder Raul Echeverria tells Forest Hills Connection that it will be enrolling children this summer for fall classes – two pre-K3 and one pre-K4.
“While the UDC space is getting ready, UDC families will be placed temporarily in Tenleytown,” Echeverria said in an email. “We are hoping to get into the UDC space in early January.”
CommuniKids in Tenleytown is a Spanish-immersion program. Its Falls Church preschool teaches children in Spanish, French and Mandarin. Echeverria said the UDC location will start with Spanish and may add Mandarin in the future.