The School Reform Act of 1985 allowed for the development of many new educational innovations offered in Illinois. One of them was the beginning of Illinois’ prekindergarten program. For the 1986 school year 99 programs began across the state….ours in Galesburg was one of them!
We began with 56 children. We reopened Stone School on west North Street as our early childhood center and it continued in that role until the fall of 2006. Knox Warren Special Education Cooperative’s Knox County early childhood special education classes moved to Stone School for the 1986-87 school year. That fall the Parent Teacher Resource Center and Lending Library was opened. It still remains a vital resource for our program and the larger community.
During the first three years the prekindergarten program only served children the year before kindergarten enrollment (four year olds). In 1989 programs for three year olds began in the community rooms at Knox County Housing Authority’s family housing sites. Those sites were used for 10 years until we moved to having mixed age classes at Stone School.
In 1990 our program worked with the four other school districts in Knox County, Abingdon, Knoxville, ROWVA and Williamsfield to begin prekindergarten classes in their communities. Those classes are now foundation programs in each community.
During the 1990s the Bright Futures program began exploring ways to integrate the prekindergarten and special education program. Through work with StarNet and Project Choices various models were attempted. Now the majority of the classes in the Galesburg classes are blended; we do not have segregated classes any longer. Special education is a range of services not a location for preschoolers.
Since the fall of 2006 our main office and 8 preschool rooms (16 sections) are housed in newly remodeled classrooms at Lincoln Education Center. Only through the cooperation of many agencies and funding sources have we been able to serve 450 preschool children each year.