Developmental Preschool Starts In Tonto Basin

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State law dictates that where there are children, age three to five years old with learning and other disabilities, public schools must accommodate those children.

Last year, when a couple of parents inquired if Tonto Basin School could accommodate their children, the school stepped up and held screenings to see if there were other children in need.

Now, there are four children in Jacki Elston's preschool class held Tuesday through Thursday between 8 a.m. and 10 a.m. in a small room in the public library.

"We started it from bare scratch," principal Johnny Ketchem said.

The preschool was monitored in February by Arizona Department of Education officers. They checked out the files and observed Elston teaching students in the classroom.

"Except for the classroom we are using, we were told we had an exemplary program," Ketchem said. "I think (the rating) is due to Mrs. Elston."

The state also monitored the K through third-grade program.

"Again they said we had an outstanding program and outstanding teachers," Ketchem said.

Tammy McLellan teaches kindergarten and first grade. Lanaw Laurias teaches second and third grade.

Outside on the school grounds, changes are in full swing.

"We are in the process of building a playground with Credit for Kids money," Ketchem said.

Drainage pipes will be installed to make the grounds ready for new equipment. Plans are mapped out for a baseball field and sand volleyball court, as well as fencing.

"We plan to grass the ball field as part of phase II," Ketchem said.

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