On Tuesday, Aug. 1, the School Board’s curriculum and instruction committee will meet to discuss the expansion of Loudoun County’s full-day kindergarten program.
School Board member and committee chair J. Warren Geurin (Sterling) said the only thing stopping schools from implementing a full-day kindergarten program for all children is building space.
As of now, the county’s public schools offer full-day kindergarten to at-risk children.
Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum Sharon Ackerman defined "at-risk children" as students enrolled in one of three programs, the federally funded Head Start program, which assists 3- and 4-year-old children from low-income families, the locally-funded STEP program designed to offer services to 3 and 4 year olds from low-income families who are not eligible for Head Start, or the special-education early-childhood classes.
"The students eligible are a very specific group of students," Ackerman said. "We’re drawing children who, research shows, would benefit most from full-day kindergarten. It is designed so students start on a more even playing field with other students coming into kindergarten."
Geurin said he understands the board won't be able to fully implement the program, but hopes to increase the number of schools where full-day kindergarten is provided to at-risk children.
CURRENTLY, seven Loudoun County public schools offer the program. Cool Spring, Countryside, Frances Hazel Reid, Legacy, Newton Lee and Sugarland elementary schools have one full-day kindergarten class. Sully Elementary School has two classes.
Under the board’s Full-Day Kindergarten Pilot Program, launched in 2002, the committee plans to add one or two new schools to the program each year. In September, Loudoun County Public Schools will add Mountain View Elementary School to the full-day kindergarten list.
School Board member Thomas Reed (At Large), an advocate for full implementation of the program, estimated it would cost the county $25 million.
He hopes to have the costing accomplished in time for fiscal year 2008’s capital improvements budget.
THE CURRICULUM and instruction committee will meet at 7 p.m., Aug. 1, at the Administration Building, in Ashburn.
"We will discuss continuing to expand the program to at-risk children in other Loudoun County Public Schools," Geurin said.