High demand for free preschool has some classes overcrowded in St. Louis City

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by Lauren Trager / News 4

KMOV.com

Posted on October 1, 2013 at 11:02 PM

Updated Tuesday, Oct 1 at 11:20 PM

(KMOV) -- Some parents are worried about overcrowded classrooms in St. Louis Public Schools.

The demand for the free preschool programs that provides certified teachers for 3-5 year olds has exploded this year with more than 450 kids on a district waiting list and just not enough classrooms for them.

State licensing standards require one adult for every ten preschool-aged kids. But at some St. Louis public schools numbers sometimes do exceed that.

"It's on the brains of the parents right now because we want the best for our children,” said Sandy Giovannetti.

Parents of preschoolers know they're often a handful.

"When there are so many 3 and 4 year-olds, they are so young they need the individualized attention to help them do the right thing and stay on track,” Giovannetti said.

These classrooms typically have just one teacher and one assistant with 20 three to five-year-olds.

Currently in four schools, there is a few more students than that. Parents worry for their kids' safety and quality of education.

“It's crazy, a lot,” Giovanetti said. So, News 4 took their concerns to the district.

"Are these teachers and teachers’ assistants equipped to handle 20-22 kids?” asked News 4 Reporter Lauren Trager “Yes, yes they are,” said Assistant Superintendent Paula Knight.

Knight says they do all they can to stay within state standards, while still serving kids.

"We try to take as many as we can without busting out classroom to the seams. I mean we are not going to bust out to 25-2 or 30 -2 we are not going to do that"

Parents though say something must be done. "I just feel like the district has to do the right thing and realize that the overcrowding isn't helping anyone and make the additional class for the preschool."

The district told News 4 while they're looking into the option, but it's a ways off.

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