The Clinton Community School District has decided to open two new preschool groups this fall at Bluff Elementary School, in light of the closing of Ashford University’s preschool program.

“We needed to replace four sections,” Jay Chelf, CSD preschool program coordinator, said. “Prince of Peace did open a new a.m. and p.m., which gave the district 20.”

The new Bluff preschool groups help round out the needed 22 sections the district previously offered before Ashford closed down the four sections it operated.

Due to the need for more academic space, Ashford University announced in April that its childcare center would not reopen this fall.

The childcare center will be converted into new science labs, which are expected to be ready for use by the beginning of the fall 2012 semester.

Now, a new morning and afternoon group will kick off Aug. 22 with 20 students in each. Both are covered by a state-funded program for 4-year-olds, Chelf said.

“The great thing about it is its free,” Chelf said. “It’s a free start to our kids in the community. It really helps the kids get started and be more ready for kindergarten.”

Chelf indicated that preschool funding was almost cut last summer, and has since been reduced.

However, the district is still able to run the program.

Those interested in enrolling their 4 year old in the program should contact Julie Matzen at 243-9600, ext. 49.

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