ASHBURN, Va. — The only school district in the national capital region that doesn’t offer universal full-day kindergarten is taking large steps to make that a reality.
Standing outside the brand-new Brambleton Middle School, Loudoun County superintendent Eric Williams said 80 percent of the county’s kindergartners will attend school for the full day this school year.
“The school board is committed to getting to 100 percent,” Williams said. “When I arrived three years ago, 17 percent of our students were in full day kindergarten.”
With Loudoun County’s population continuing to grow, pressure has been increasing on school and political leaders to replace Loudoun’s antiquated half-day kindergarten programs.
“The challenges through the years has been just finding space,” said Williams. “We need to have a sense of urgency to continue to get to 100 percent, because kids only have one shot at school. And full day kindergarten is a strong foundation for success in future years.”
In addition to building new schools, Williams said the school system has been finding creative ways to find the room and hire teachers for full-day kindergarten.
“We’ve converted computer labs into classroom space, and that makes sense, not only for finding space for full day kindergarten, but instructionally integrating the technology into classrooms, rather than having separate, stand-alone rooms.”
Williams said the county has been opening an average of three new schools per year, and that number will continue for the next several years.
Still, officials want to make sure demand for new schools coincides with neighborhood growth. Currently, the Dulles South area is seeing the largest growth in the county.
“We don’t want to build more schools than we need, so the school board has asked us to take a look at whether or not we should do some tweaking of attendance boundaries,” Williams said.
“Not only are we considering the acceleration of the construction of some new schools, we’re also in the process of placing classroom additions on a number of school campuses, where otherwise we would not be able to provide universal full day kindergarten.”