CCPS partners with CSM to expand early childhood education program offerings


The College of Southern Maryland (CSM) is leasing one of its buildings to Charles County Public Schools (CCPS) starting Jan. 1, 2023. CCPS will soon utilize CSM’s former St. Charles Children’s Learning Center (CLC) to expand prekindergarten program offerings. Use of the facility by CCPS will begin with the start of the 2023-2024 school year.

CCPS is set to lease the building on the CSM La Plata campus for two consecutive years with an option for an additional lease after June 2026. CCPS will use the building as part of the school system’s focus to fulfill the early childhood education requirement in the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future legislation. One of the pillars of the Blueprint is the expansion of early childhood education program access. By expanding access to high-quality early education programs, CCPS is preparing students for school readiness.

CCPS currently offers a full-day prekindergarten program at each of the 22 elementary schools. Currently, there are 847 children enrolled, and nearly 220 are on a waiting list for placement. CCPS’s use of the former CLC space will provide additional space for prekindergarten students.

To be considered for prekindergarten, a child must be four years old on or before Sept. 1 of the upcoming school year and be a Charles County resident. Income verification is a requirement for all families applying for prekindergarten.

Prekindergarten programs align with the criteria outlined in the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future legislation. Admission to prekindergarten is not guaranteed. When filling out the online application, parents must select the correct tier application for their child. The three-tier system features certain criteria to qualify. Information about the prekindergartner tier information is below.  

Tier I – priority student placement

  • Students whose families meet Tier I income guidelines.
  • Students who are homeless or in foster care.
  • Students who have a current, active Individualized Education Plan (IEP).
  • Tier I students may be offered a space in prekindergarten at a school outside of their school zone if their home school program is full at the time of acceptance.
    • Students may receive transportation to and from the out-of-zone school.

Tier II

  • Students whose families do not meet Tier I income guidelines but fall within the Tier II income guidelines.
  • Tier II students may be placed in prekindergarten if space remains available after all Tier I students are placed.
  • Tier II students may be placed in prekindergarten after the school year begins.
  • Tier II students will be placed on a wait list in the following order:
    • Child’s primary language is not English.
    • Child lives with an elderly grandparent or an elderly guardian (parent not in household), parent has a diagnosed chronic illness impacting the ability to care for the child, or parent is or will be deployed for six months or more.

Tier III

  • Any student whose family does not meet Tier I or Tier II income guidelines.
  • Tier III students may be placed in prekindergarten if space remains available after all Tier I and Tier II students are placed.
  • Tier III students will be placed on a wait list in the following order:
    • Child’s primary language is not English.
    • Child lives with an elderly grandparent or an elderly guardian (parent not in household), parent has a diagnosed chronic illness impacting the ability to care for the child, or parent is or will be deployed for six months or more.
    • Birth date order beginning with September birth dates.
  • If space remains for Tier III students, parents will be notified by email of program acceptance and placement will not start until after the school year begins.

The former CLC site at CSM will undergo renovations to fit the needs of the early childhood education program. “CCPS is excited to expand our prekindergarten program to more students in the Charles County community,” CCPS Superintendent Maria Navarro, Ed.D., said. “When children have access to early learning opportunities such as prekindergarten, they are better prepared to start school.”

“We are thrilled to enter into this MOU [memorandum of understanding] to support Charles County Public Schools and help our youngest learners get off to a great start,” CSM Board of Trustees Chair Shawn Coates said. “This is just another example of CSM’s far-reaching goal to help our students, our partners, and our communities meet the challenges of individual, social – and in this case – legislative changes that improve our educational systems.”

Read more about the early childhood education implementation plan here on the CCPS website.




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