The Need for a New Bush Early Education Center
Quite simply, we are out of room at our current location in a wing of Hanby Elementary School. Ten years ago, when Bush moved into the new Hanby, the physical space met our students' needs. However, over time the number of students in need of specialized preschool services grew to the point where the only option was to scale back to half-day programming instead of offering full-day programming. While this move provided some temporary relief, it was not in line with the move towards full-day programming offered by sister districts, which put our students at a disadvantage. Numbers continued to increase, and portions of the building were converted from gym and conference room space into preschool classrooms. Facing increases for the 2021.22 school year, plans are in the works to transform the Hanby Elementary Computer Lab and the Bush OT/PT room into two additional classrooms.
The lack of space also prohibits what is considered best practice in early childhood education in terms of the composition of students in the classroom. Research shows that inclusive practices in preschool show increased gains for students with special needs and their typical peers without special needs. Best practices in early childhood education suggest that classrooms be comprised of 30% students with special needs and 70% of typical peers. Currently, the lack of space decreases the number of typical students that can be accepted compared to those with special needs whom the District is legally obligated to serve. As a result, Brandywine's classrooms are exactly the opposite of best practices, with 70% or more of students with special needs and the balance of the class being typical peers.
Adding to the need is the staggering number of students that reside in or just outside the BSD feeder pattern that receive no preschool or early education experience before Kindergarten. The document below contains percentages of students per zip code that receive no public, private, or parochial preschool services. These students often come to Kindergarten well behind their peers that received preschool education and start their formal schooling from a deficit – a cycle that tends to be a constant for the remainder of their school experience.