Prince William school board: Full-day kindergarten threatened by budget constraints

WASHINGTON — The Prince William County school system has been making cuts over the past few years, and board members now say that the county’s universal full-day kindergarten could be next.

The Washington Post reports that Superintendent Steven L. Walts once called the program his “greatest accomplishment,” but current board members say after years of enrollment that outpaced growth of the budget, and a property-tax hike that looks to be smaller than originally planned, they’re running out of places to cut.

“It’s more of an economic calculation than an educational calculation,” board Chairman Milton C. Johns told The Post. “We’re out of options.”

One proposal would do away with full-day kindergarten at more than half the county’s 57 elementary schools. Almost every district in Virginia offers universal full-day kindergarten, but the district is only required to provide half-day instruction.

“From an instructional perspective, yes, we think full-day kindergarten is absolutely needed,” Associate Superintendent for for Finance and Support Services Dave Cline told The Post. “But somewhere along the line, we’re going to have to continue to make more and more difficult choices.”

Johns says that class sizes have grown over the years in an attempt to deal with financing cuts, but that class sizes are approaching the legal limit.

The school board meets at 7 p.m. Wednesday at the Kelly Leadership Center located at 14715 Bristow Rd. in Manassas.

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