Maine school districts add 280 pre-kindergarten slots as state weighs expansion

By Rachel Ohm – Staff Writer, Portland Press Herald

NEW GLOUCESTER — When 4-year-old Caleb Haley and his mother walked into his new pre-K classroom on a recent afternoon, they were greeted with a warm welcome and a smile from his teacher.

“I’m excited,” Melissa Kraus, a teacher at the Burchard A. Dunn Elementary School, said to her new student. “Are you excited? You can play with whatever you want today.”

It wasn’t long before Caleb felt comfortable to leave his mother’s side to explore a sand pit of toy trucks or sit down on the rug with his new teacher to look at a storybook.

The classroom is among those in a growing number of Maine school districts to offer a public pre-K option – something many educators and lawmakers agree is important but have struggled to implement statewide.

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