The Loudoun County School Board spent a fair amount of their scheduled work session Jan. 26 discussing programs and compensation considered for the cutting board in the fiscal 2013 school operating budget.
A major topic throughout this budget process has been full-day kindergarten.
Under Loudoun County Public Schools Superintendent Edgar Hatrick’s proposed budget, the first phase of full-day kindergarten would begin in fiscal 2013 and continue over the next three years.
A majority of the school board members would like to implement full-day kindergarten, but under the current budget restraints they are unsure if it will be possible for this fiscal year.
Jeff Morse (Dulles) was the first to speak on the topic, saying he was worried about the needs that will come with implementing the program.
“If you were to pick a school like Buffalo Trail [Elementary School], you would see that the average class size would be 35.5 students, and that obviously is not going to work, so where are these kids going to go?,” Morse said. “They are not going to be able to house all of the kindergarteners at Buffalo Trail. So now we are talking about moving kindergarteners for a year and then bringing them back for first grade.
“I don’t know how that can work and I am not willing to take some of the children out of the community for their first year of school and then put them back in the community for the second year of school,” Morse said.
Morse added he is troubled by trying to kick off the program, because while he’s in favor of it, it’ll create a competition for seats that are needed to handle the rapid growth in the community.
Chairman Eric Hornberger (Ashburn) suggested the school board include this topic at a Joint School Board and Board of Supervisors Committee Meeting to better understand what the long-term cost will be.
“I would like to move the conversation this year into the Joint Board to begin to talk about this and try to analyze this and begin to maybe lay some sort of trajectory to do it,” Hornberger said. “That’s how I think we should move personally, but I don’t think we can afford it in the current budget.”
Brenda Sheridan (Sterling) wants to put the issue to the community.
“I want to put this out as a bond referendum so the community can have the ultimate say, so there is money in place to implement it over a four year phase,” Sheridan said. “I am in full support of opening up that dialogue with the the Board of Supervisors to make that happen.”
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