• Missoula County Public Schools is expanding the Early Kindergarten Program for the 2023-2024 school year. In addition to the two classes of up to 18 students at the Jefferson Center (at 1700 South Avenue), Early Kindergarten programs will also be offered at Lowell, Franklin and Russell elementary schools! Families who live within the Lowell, Franklin or Russell school boundaries are encouraged to consider applying for the program available in their neighborhood.

    Early Kindergarten students will have their first day of school on Tuesday, September 5, 2023.

    Early Kindergarten classrooms are focused on students who live in the following neighborhoods:

    • Northside/Westside (Lowell Elementary)
    • Franklin to the Fort (Franklin Elementary)
    • River Road (Hawthorne Elementary)
    • Southgate Triangle (Russell Elementary)

    The goal of the Early Kindergarten program is to help targeted students with kindergarten readiness skills. Research shows that students who experience certain risk factors are shown to have more trouble meeting baseline academic, social, and emotional targets when they enter kindergarten. MCPS wants to ensure that all students in our community are prepared to succeed in kindergarten and beyond by providing a language-rich program designed to add intensive resources for targeted 4- and 5-year-olds. At Jefferson Center, Early Kindergarten classrooms will be separate from the existing Preschool classrooms, but students will have chances to intermingle during the school day.  


    5-year-olds: Children who will turn 5 years old after May 1, 2023 and before September 10, 2023 may be screened for placement in Early Kindergarten or Kindergarten. 

    4-year-olds: The program serves students who turn 4 years old on or before September 10, 2023 and will give priority to the following factors:

    1. Lives in the targeted neighborhoods surrounding Franklin, Hawthorne, Lowell and Russell Elementary schools, or;
    2. meets the income eligibility of 200% or less of the Federal Poverty Guidelines (see chart below), or;  
    3. is Limited English Proficient within the meaning of Title III of the federal Elementary and Secondary Education Act, or;
    4. is homeless as defined in 42 U.S. Code § 11302, or;  
    5. does not meet these requirements, but is recommended for enrollment by the administration.  

    Only students who live within MCPS elementary district boundaries will be admitted to the program.



Application Materials


    After all applications materials have been recieved, the applications will be reviewed and parents whose students are invited to enroll will be notified. 

    At that time, parents who wish to enroll will complete the full MCPS enrollment packet, including the student’s immunization records. 


    Jefferson Center: Classes run from 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday.  Classes run from 9:30 a.m. to 1:45 p.m. on Thursdays.  

    Lowell, Russell and Franklin schools: These programs will follow the elementary school bell schedule (8:15 AM - 3:15 PM on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays; 8:15 AM - 2:30 PM on Thursdays). Students can access bus transportation on the regular neighborhood routes. 

    After-school care options and transportation details will be worked out during the enrollment process. Parents or other designated adults must be present with the student at the bus stop for pick up and drop off. 

    ANNUAL CALENDAR:  Students in the Early Kindergarten program will attend school for a minimum of 360 aggregate hours across the entire school year and will follow this academic calendar.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Where will my child attend Kindergarten in the following school year?

    Your child’s elementary school will be based on your address at the time your child starts kindergarten. MCPS attendance boundaries can be found on our website.

    Will there be meals provided during the school day?

    Lunch will be provided during the school day. Students who do not qualify for Free or Reduced Price lunches can purchase lunch for $2.50 each day.

    Will students take naps during the day?

    Students will have a rest period. The school will provide a mat and pillow for students to use during the rest period.

    What school supplies should my child bring to school?

    Students should bring in a change of clothes including shoes, socks and underwear to be stored at school. Please clearly label all items with your child’s name.

    Does my child need to be able to use the toilet independently at all times?

    Yes, students need to be able to use a toilet independently to participate in the Early Kindergarten program.

    If I live in the boundaries for another elementary school district (i.e. Hellgate Elementary or Target Range Elementary), can my child participate in this program?

    No, the Early Kindergarten program is only open to four-year-old students who live within the MCPS Elementary District boundaries.


    Contact Brenda Sweeney, Special Education Coordinator, at 728-2400, ext. 5023 or bssweeney@mcpsmt.org