Preschool move

Preschool director Carla Malone at one of the whiteboards lowered to improve their visibility for preschool eyes.

CANNONSBURG Haley Bevis and two assistants stood in the center of her empty classroom Tuesday making a mental map of the furnishings needed to prepare it for preschoolers.

A smart board will occupy one newly painted wall. Shelves and cubbies for the children’s backpacks will reside on another.

Kid-sized tables, more shelves and a big rug for circle time will take up the floor space.

Bevis is one of 13 teachers getting ready for the consolidation of the Boyd County School District’s preschool program, which will move children from three locations to one at the former high school now called the Heritage Building.

The move brings all preschool-age children together under one roof, a move teachers say enhances their development and administrators say tightens security.

“Once the children are all together, all the same age, with the same rules and clear expectations, we expect better behavior . . . and the entire staff will have a better understanding of the early childhood environment,” said Bevis, who has been stationed at Catlettsburg Elementary School, one of the three locations.

The other two are a building adjacent to the board office on Bob McCullough Drive and a former pizza restaurant on U.S. 60.

“This has been a dream in Boyd County for three directors before me. It’s been tossed around for several years,” said early childhood director Carla Malone.

Boyd County’s preschool program reaches about 260 children and includes 13 teachers, each of whom has two aides.

The preschool will use 12 classrooms and four other rooms for speech, occupational therapy and other uses, according to Malone.

The rooms have been painted and workers have installed heating and air conditioning units in most of the rooms allowing for individual temperature control.

Whiteboards are being lowered to a more child-friendly height.

Some classrooms have new doors and the doors are heavy, intrusion-resistant steel.

Children will enter the building through two doors, one for bus-transport and the other, at the front entrance, for parent drop-offs.

Parents coming for conferences or other purposes will enter through a separate, buzzer-controlled door to a security vestibule from which access to the rest of the building also is controlled by a buzzer system.

A central courtyard is being converted to a playground and a concrete pad covering part of it will provide space for riding bicycles and tricycles and conducting other activities requiring a hard surface, Malone said.

The program will use the gymnasium for play on bad-weather days, she said.

The board of education last week approved hiring a school resource officer dedicated to the building, which also houses the district’s talented and gifted program, technology department and special education offices. All will remain in the building, Malone said.

The board authorized $15,000 in safe schools funding for the position, and the Boyd County Sheriff’s Department will kick in roughly the same amount, Superintendent Bill Boblett said.

The addition of the officer is part of the enhanced security that drove planning for the move.

The current locations do not have enclosed classrooms, making them more vulnerable to intruders.

The U.S. 60 location is leased and the lease will not be renewed. The district will keep the structure on Bob McCullough Drive for possible future use, Boblett said.

The first day for children will be Aug. 26.

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Mike James is The Independent's education reporter. He has covered news in Northeast Kentucky since 1996.