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Prairie City News

Mustang Scholars earns upper level rating from DHS

2018-19 preschool registration ends April 6

PRAIRIE CITY — The Mustang Scholars 3-year-old Preschool Board announced last week it has received its first grade report from the Iowa Quality Rating System and has earned an upper level score.

The QRS is a tool of the Iowa Department of Human Services to rank the number and quality of services provided by Iowa’s accredited preschools and day cares. Mustang Scholars Preschool received three stars in the latest grade report.

“It’s a matter of the amount of work you put forth to better your preschool and what the teachers do to better the program,” Mustang Scholars Preschool teacher Mary Catherine Striegel said.

The current rating system goes from one to five stars. A one to two star rating is earned for a base level of services. To earn a three star rating, Striegel said the Mustang Scholars 3-year-old preschool program, now in its second school year of operation, instituted several initiatives beyond base level education.

She said the school conducts annual parent/teachers conferences, writes a newsletter to parents, enlists a registered nurse to assess all the students along with an eye examine, courtesy of the Lion’s Club. Each of these factors, Striegel said, contributed to the QRS grade.

The rating system is voluntary, but helps schools and day cares access funding and tuition assistance programs like the Jasper/Marion/Polk County scholarship for parents, also known as JMP.

“The board is beyond thrilled to earn the three star QRS rating,” Mustang Scholars Board member Kaylee Siebrecht said. “A lot of hard work was put into getting this rating and the PCM community should be proud that such a quality program can be offered. Our program continues to grow and we look forward to the future of Mustang Scholars Preschool.”

In the future, Striegel said the school will continue to work to better its rating, but DHS is planning revamped QRS standards slated to be released later this year. Striegel said Mustang Scholars will have to examine the new rules before deciding what programs to implement or renew.

The Mustang Scholars 3-year-old Preschool is a community-run program hosted at the Prairie City First Reformed Church. It was created two years ago when PCM Community School District ended its preschool program for 3-year-olds after district leaders determined it was no longer financially viable and tuition rates became too high for some PCM families. The state legislature does not provide universal funding for 3-year-old preschool in Iowa.


Registration for the 3-year-old preschool is also underway. Tuition is $85 per month. According to the Mustang Scholars board, the deposit will go toward the student’s September tuition. Tuition for a second child of the same family is 20 percent less. 

JMP scholarship tuition assistance is available and the board highly encourages parents to apply. All children must be 3 years old by Sept. 15, 2018, to qualify and must be fully potty trained by the start of school. 

A current well child exam and current immunization records on file when the school year starts are required.

To register for the 2018-19 school year, mail an $85 non-refundable check to Mustang Scholars Preschool, First Reformed Church, P.O. Box 178, Prairie City, IA 50228. The deposit will cover the student’s first month of tuition.

Interested parents can request a registration form by emailing Forms will also be available on the Prairie City FRC doorway.

The deadline to register is April 6.

Contact Mike Mendenhall at

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