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Universal full-day kindergarten could come to Loudoun next year

Under the current proposed school budget for fiscal year 2019, 92 percent of students would have access to full day kindergarten, but under a new plan, universal full day kindergarten may be possible.

The School Board had approved a plan to phase in full day kindergarten to account for funding and space constraints. This year, around 89 percent of Loudoun students have full access to full day kindergarten and next year’s proposed 92 percent would include all schools except Creighton’s Corner, Hillside, Mill Run and Lucketts Elementary Schools.

More specifically, Creighton’s Corner would have three full day kindergarten classes and six half day kindergarten classes, Hillside would have two full day kindergarten classes and two half day kindergarten classes, Mill Run would have two full day kindergarten classes and three half day kindergarten classes and Lucketts would have no full day kindergarten classes and two half day kindergarten classes.

Eric Hornberger (Ashburn) asked Loudoun County Public Schools staff about the possibility of accomodating students from these four schools offsite in order to be able to offer all LCPS kindergarteners full day kindergarten. Staff shared a possible plan at the School Board’s last budget work session Jan. 18.

Hornberger announced this alternative plan on his Facebook page. He said LCPS could provide universal full day kindergarten by using the half day kindergarten classrooms at these four schools for full day kindergarten.

This would leave the county one classroom short in each school in order to accommodate all students. The classroom deficit would be accommodated by assigning those four full day kindergarten classrooms to available space at nearby schools.

“I am surprised just how close we now are to being able to offer universal FDK,” Hornberger said. “It seems to me that this Optional Plan provides not only a reasonable way of being able to do so beginning next year (Fall 2018) but also over the next several years.”

Students from the one remaining full day kindergarten class at Creighton’s Corner would be served at Rosa Lee Carter Elementary, Hillside students at Newton-Lee Elementary, Mill Run students at Sanders Corner Elementary and Lucketts students would either go to Ball's Bluff or Waterford Elementary, Hornberger said.

LCPS would provide students with transportation. The plan would allow for universal full-day kindergarten, with all but an estimated 90 students to be able to stay at their “home” elementary school. Staff recommends students moving from one school to another would all be in class together, instead of being dispersed throughout the total full-day kindergarten population.

Due to offsets in half-day kindergarten staffing and transportation, staff estimates the additional cost of this option is around $154,784 in additional staffing costs.

“With new schools and additional classroom additions coming online beginning in the fall of 2019, more classroom space will become available to eliminate the need for such a plan for some of these four elementary schools beyond next year,” Hornberger said. “However, there will likely be a few more schools, especially in areas of more rapid population growth, that may require such a plan in order to maintain universal FDK for their students beyond next year.”

Staff has proposed two options for transporting these estimated 90 students assigned to full-day kindergarten at a neighboring school. Either they would be transported independently through a distinct bus run, which could require more money to account for the time and coordination of this additional busing, or they would be transported to their home school and then to their full day kindergarten school, which could decrease classroom time.

Hornberger said he felt the second option was more likely because of how close the full-day kindergarten schools are to the home schools.

This plan would still use a lottery to identify which students would be assigned to the “off site” full-day kindergarten classes. Hornberger said students with siblings in older grades would likely be provided preference for home school classroom assignment.

Under the current plan, students with special criteria are given preference in full-day kindergarten placement, but with this plan, they would participate in the lottery like all other students.

A minor policy change by the School Board on maximum kindergarten class sizes — increasing the class size maximum by just one student — is likely needed in order to make the plan work at Creighton’s Corner and potentially avoid overflowing kindergarten students at a few other elementary schools that may have unanticipated growth in kindergarten student populations. The School Board was already planning to make this change in policy, independent of this particular scenario, Hornberger said.

The analysis is based on projected student population growth, so should this plan be approved, the School Board will need to modify it prior to the start of the school year to accommodate for unanticipated growth in the elementary school population.

Hornberger said this could mean a change in the anticipated full day kindergarten classroom assignment at a school or potentially the overflow of a few late arrival kindergarten students which LCPS has been trying to avoid but sometime is unavoidable.

The school most at risk for this is Creighton’s Corner, where the anticipated growth in kindergarten population and space limitations at the school provide the least flexibility.

Joy Maloney (Broad Run) said on her Facebook page that moving students around would likely only be necessary until elementary school 31 opens in the 2019-2020 school year when there would be enough room to accommodate all students at their home schools. Beth Huck (At-Large) also voiced her support of the plan and asked constituents for feedback.

“At an increased cost of only $154,784 to provide an FDK opportunity to the remaining 263 students in Loudoun who are projected not to have it, I believe this plan should be given serious consideration by the board and community,” Hornberger said.

Superintendent Eric Williams also supported the alternate plan, saying it is worthy of consideration by the School Board for use next school year or in subsequent school years.

County residents can send feedback on this plan and other budget topics via email at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or at its scheduled budget public hearing Wednesday.

Comments


@ Johnathan Erickson, please read any of the Literature on differences between FDK and Half-day it is obvious that students that are in school longer have more benefit in the long term as proved by many different organizations and studies over a decade worth of data to back it up. Thanks LCPS for the support at Creightons


What a joke. Guess LCPS planning group didn’t think of that? Just build more Elementary schools, all Loudoun resident have all kinds of extra money lying around.


There is probably enough wiggle room in the LCPS $1.202 BILLION budget to find $155,000.


I know there are many opinions on full-day kindergarten, but having had three kids that age, there is no way attention spans at that age can justify them spending an entire day in school in my experience.

I personally feel the money would be much better off spent strengthening STEM programs and more emphasis on vocations for our older children versus what I feel is county paid daycare.  There are many well paying jobs that do not require a college education and feel this would provide those not wanting to pursue a college degree a hand up versus a hand out.


King Tut Williams claim to fame is instituting Full Day kindergarten. No known academic benefits for the student just half day babysitting on the taxpayer , lovely.


I was very happy that my children were NOT in full-day kindergarten and home with me.


Regardless of your feelings on the issue, we can’t get to the point where a couple of hundred kids don’t get FDK but everyone else does.  Everyone needs to start school with a level playing field, so it is time to make this happen. 

Want to save money, look at press boxes, artificial turf fields, admin salaries, and the like—not FDK.


Loudoun Co should not give residents that participate in the county’s affordable dwelling unit program a hefty discount on their property tax bill. That should be enough to cover the 150,000 budget increase.

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