Miami Parents Pull All-nighter in Line to Register for Pre-Kindergarten

Miami Parents Pull All-nighter in Line to Register for Pre-Kindergarten
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An early start to education is supposed to help put kids on the path to success. But in Miami, Oklahoma, the pre-kindergarten program in the public schools has room for just twenty kids.

And some parents were willing to go to extremes to get one.

In what looked like a line for tickets to a rock concert or an early Christmas sale, parents stood waiting to get their 4 year olds into a pre- kindergarten class. And some waited more than 12 hours arriving Monday around 4:30 in the afternoon until doors opened as the district administration building at 7:00am Tuesday.

Scott Truessler says, “Its first come first so we all got excited and got here early to be in line for this. It’s a great program and we have a great teacher.”

Tyson Murphy says, “It’s actually happened for the last three years where it’s been that way. And each year people are lining up earlier and earlier.”

The overnight campers made it fun watching movies on a big screen and ordering pizza. But not all are thrilled about the class limits.

Murphy says, “I would say it’s really crazy there’s only one class, when about 200 kids go to kindergarten.”

Emma Kennedy whose grandchild is the right age for pre-kindergarten is at the end of the line. She says, “I just have a concern because she deserves an opportunity like every other the child in the community to be educated and have that edge for the school.”

She missed getting another grandchild into the class last year and other options failed.

“My daughter tried to get her into head start. My daughter is a nurse and she was declined because of the funding. They suggested putting her in private schooling which was too expensive.”

Miami’s Head Start offers six classrooms for 4 year olds with 18 students in each. And while families must meet federal income guidelines, head start can accept some over income clients. Up to 10 percent the center’s coverage area.

Teresa Smith with Head Start says, “We’re hoping they come over here if they don’t get in over there. We really encourage them to come over here and enroll.” Head Start is not full at this time and in the past has created complete classes from those who are over income.

Kennedy will wait and hope.

The Jacksons who were first in line say it’s all about the kids.

Murphy also got his child into the class, but believes other families should have the same opportunity at pre-k.

Murphy says “I really don’t know what the answer is, other than trying to find some funds to be able to open more classes.”

School officials say creating that classroom space would likely take a bond issue. Until then its early birds in line who will get kids into pre-k.

Assistant superintendent Dr. Randy Darr says other districts choose to offer half-day pre-kindergarten which would allow for serving more students. But he says Miami parents had previously supported full day pre- k, mirroring what’s offered at head start.