Full-Day Kindergarten Amendment Comes Before County School Board Tonight
Implementing program county-wide would cost at least $8.1M
The Fairfax County School Board will vote tonight on a budget amendment that would implement full-day kindergarten in the county schools currently without it.
The amendment, which will be presented by Board Member Elizabeth Bradsher, asks Superintendent Jack Dale to develop a plan to begin implementing full-day kindergarten as early as the 2011-2012 school year and finish implementing it at 37 schools by 2013-2014. The amendment asks for the plan to be complete before May 2.
Extending full-time kindergarten to all schools would require an additional 150 teaching and other instructional and staff positions at an estimated cost of $8.1 million. When offset by $400,000 from state revenue and another $400,00 saved by eliminating half-day kindergarten bus runs, the net cost would be $7.3 million, according to school board documents.
A full-day program would also double the number of kindergarten classrooms in those schools, Fairfax County Public School spokesman Paul Regnier said, a cost not included in the $8.1 million estimate. A school board document says any facility needs — such as additional trailers — can be funded by the capital improvement program or existing money set aside for trailers and space growth, or met by reallocating school space.
“There may be space in the schools, or they may have to bring in trailers. That’s going to vary,” Regnier said.
The school board would also look for available funding in its next quarterly budget review of fiscal year 2011 to help implement the program, said Mary Shaw, a spokeswoman for Fairfax County Public Schools.
The program would add full-day elementary programs at Vienna, Louise Archer, Flint Hill and Wolftrap elementary schools.
Wolftrap Elementary School Principal Anita Blain said she piloted full day kindergarten in 1986 for the parochial school system in San Francisco, and that she supports implementing the program in Fairfax County.
"I saw the benefits for the students in the eagerness to learn, the rate at which they learn, and the joy they had being in school," she said. " I am hopeful this grass roots efforts by the parents will be successful in finally bridging the inequity of what we now have in our schools where full day kindergarten is not an option at all Fairfax elementary schools."
Five board members drafted the amendment after a Jan. 24 public hearing that drew more than 200 supporters of full-time kindergarten, including members of Fairfax for Full Day Kindergarten and the Fairfax Association of Elementary School Principals.
“This board clearly supports full-day kindergarten,” school board member Dan Storck said at the budget hearing. Storck said after a two-year salary freeze, the school board is also concerned about increasing teacher compensation and, with a limited budget, he was not sure how much money would be available for full-day kindergarten.
Local activists have argued that with 517 fewer instructional hours, teachers cannot give students in half-day kindergarten the same educational experience as their counterparts in full-day kindergarten.
“We have over 5,000 students who don’t have the same opportunity that full-day kindergarten students have," Stratford Landing Elementary teacher Mary Amico said at the budget hearing.
The county first brought full-time kindergarten to schools several years ago, starting at the schools with the most need — determined by poverty level and the number of students in reduced-price/free lunch and English Language Learners programs — several years ago, but that effort came to a halt as the recession worsened in 2009.
“At this point, it’s a budget issue,” Regnier said.
Other budget amendments on tonight’s school board agenda include:
- Increasing the student parking fee from $200 to $250
- Eliminating the $3.1 million used to fund Foreign Language in the Elementary Schools (FLES) program in all schools beginning in the 2011-2012 school year
- Requesting that the Superintendent develop a plan that addresses Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli’s recent opinion that requiring students in AP courses to pay AP exam fees is illegal in public schools, and present it at the board’s March 14 work session
- Restoring summer school (Elementary Early Intervention Program) at the elementary level beginning in Summer 2011
- Funding an analysis of discipline procedures and policies
- Creating a plan to provide additional services for students who receive out-of-school suspensions
Cost To Implement Full-Day K At FCPS Schools
Ranked in order of need
|School name||Additional K.Teachers
||Additional Art/Music/PE Teachers
||Additional K Instructional Assistants
||Total Operating Cost|
*Includes school-wide IA, AP, custodial and clerical positions
Source: Fairfax County Public Schools