On March 1, the DeWinton Community Association (DCA) informed parents of kids at their school that their preschool would be closing at the end of this school year.

This announcement occurred after registration had already begun for next year's school year.

After some pushback from local parents, the DCA held a meeting on March 6 to hear people's concerns about the school closure, with another meeting on March 12 to inform people if they would follow through with the closing of the school.

It was after the March 12 meeting that they announced they'd be following through on the plan to shut the preschool down.

Then, on March 20, the Foothills School Division issued a media release stating they would be opening a Junior Kindergarten program at the Heritage Heights School in DeWinton.

"We recognized the need for a Junior Kindergarten, or preschool, in the DeWinton area after hearing about the closing of the preschool," explained Sara Fox, who is the Manager of Communications & Community Engagement with the Foothills School Division. "And so, we wanted to make sure that parents still had an option in their neighbourhood."

The Junior Kindergarten program with the Foothills School Division is regulated by the Education Act and is taught by certified early childhood educators, with it running from September through to June.

They use the Curriculum Framework for Early Learning and Child Care in Alberta, which helps to guide the decisions made by the educators.

The curriculum also sets goals for the development of daily routines, learning experiences and environments, and interactions with the child and family.

In order for kids to attend the 2024/2025 school year, they must be four years old as of December 31, 2024.

Children who will turn three by the end of the year and have been assessed with severe delays in development may be eligible to enroll for two years of junior kindergarten.

"We are thrilled to welcome these little learners to our brand-new junior kindergarten classroom at Heritage Heights! Let the adventure begin!" stated the Principal at Heritage Heights School, Glenn Gibson in the March 20 media release.

Because this new program will be run by a school board, it falls under the Education Act, making it not eligible for childcare subsidies.

The Junior Kindergarten program at Heritage Heights will offer two and three half-day and full-day classes on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday.

For a kid to attend the program at Heritage Heights, it will cost $50 per half day a week, per child each month.

If you are looking for more information about the program, contact the Heritage Heights School at heritage@fsd38.ab.ca or by phone at (403)938-1400.