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10/20/23: North Thurston Public Schools to Host Tuition-Free Bezos Academy Preschool

North Thurston Public Schools to Host Tuition-Free Bezos Academy Preschool

Bezos Academy Lacey - Southeast will add 60 full-day preschool seats in the community

October 20, 2023 (Lacey)—North Thurston Public Schools (NTPS) announced an agreement with Bezos Academy to open a tuition-free, Montessori-inspired preschool housed on the Seven Oaks Elementary School campus. The preschool, to be named Bezos Academy Lacey – Southeast, will feature three classrooms and have room for 60 students. The NTPS School Board approved the agreement at their October 19 meeting.

“This partnership is a wonderful addition to the high-quality preschool programs we currently provide to give students a strong start,” NTPS Superintendent Dr. Debra Clemens said. “Early learning is a community priority, and it takes many partners to meet the demand for our high-quality programs for our youngest learners.”

“The Board is extremely pleased that NTPS is embarking on this public-private partnership,” said NTPS Board President Gretchen Maliska. “Quality preschool programs can be hard to access, either due to cost or capacity, and this will open the door to school readiness for even more children in our community.”

“Like so many communities around the country, half of children entering kindergarten in the Lacey area have not had the opportunity to participate in formal early learning,” said Mike George, President of Bezos Academy. “Thank you to Superintendent Clemens and the NTPS School Board for making increasing access to early childhood education a priority.”

Bezos Academy Lacey – Southeast will be located on the Seven Oaks Elementary School campus, at 1800 Seven Oaks St., SE. The school is slated to open in 2025 after renovation is complete. Updates about the school opening date, and application for the lottery-based selection process will be posted at www.bezosacademy.org. Families earning up to 400% of the federal poverty level with children ages 3 or 4 will be eligible to apply.

The first goal in the NTPS district strategic plan is Success in the Early Years, with one outcome focused on increasing the percentage of children enrolled in high-quality preschool programs.

Bezos Academy will join a group of ongoing NTPS preschool offerings, including:

  • Free preschool programs for students with special education needs, with typically developing children enrolled on a tuition basis. Students who are in foster care or McKinney-Vento eligible attend tuition free. (Offered at Meadows, Mountain View, Pleasant Glade, and Woodland elementary schools.)
  • Future Ready Kindergarten, a free transitional program that offers essential academic and social-emotional skills for children the year before they are eligible to attend kindergarten. (Offered for children in the enrollment areas of Chambers Prairie, Horizons, Lacey, Lakes, Lydia Hawk, and Seven Oaks elementary schools.)

Existing NTPS preschool partnerships include:

  • ECEAP and Head Start programs managed and staffed by ESD 113. (ECEAP is offered at Pleasant Glade Elementary, and Hawks Prairie Head Start is offered on the Nisqually Middle School campus.)
  • Capital Forest Cooperative Preschool, which provides play-based learning for ages 2 to 5 with a family education and engagement component. (Housed in the NTPS Partnership Center.)

About Bezos Academy

Bezos Academy is a non-profit organization that is building a network of fully funded tuition-free preschools. Our preschools offer year-round, full-day programming, five days a week, for children from low-income families ages 3–5 years old. Bezos Academy also provides students with all necessary educational supplies and services to set each student up for success, including Montessori materials, books, arts and crafts, field trips, and meals. As of October 2023, we have 17 schools operating across Washington, Texas, and Florida, and agreements in place to open locations across these states and others, including in Hawaii, Kentucky, and Arizona. For more information, visit www.bezosacademy.org.

About North Thurston Public Schools

NTPS is a vibrant and diverse school district serving more than 14,400 students in the south Puget Sound. We serve the community with 13 elementary schools, four middle schools, three comprehensive high schools, and four choice schools. Our mission is: Committed to Excellence: Preparing all students for rewarding careers, fulfilling lives, and compassionate global citizenship. For more information: www.nthurston.k12.wa.us.

Media contacts

North Thurston Public Schools
Amy Blondin, Executive Director of Communications
ablondin@nthurston.k12.wa.us 
360-412-4417

Bezos Academy
Allison Leader, Director of External Communications
media@bezosacademy.org