Manassas City is planning to offer a pilot prekindergarten program for 3-year-olds starting in fall.
The program would begin with one class of 10 to 12 children in a half-day program at Round Elementary School, said Craig Gfeller, the Manassas City Pubic Schools’ executive director of student achievement, at Tuesday night’s School Board meeting.
The program is aimed at children who have aged out of Early Head Start and other infant and toddler programs, which end at age 3. In an interview earlier this week, School Board member Sara Brescia, a member of the Academic Committee, said, “It’s kind of an acknowledged gap” in education. “There’s a year where there’s no place for the poor kids to go, and it’s like, ‘Who’s deciding this?’”
The eligibility requirements will be the same as for the 4-year-old program, and the pilot program will use the state-approved assessment tools to measure student progress.
‘It Will Add No Staffing’
At the meeting, Gfeller pointed to statistics that found four out of 10 children enter schools without the requisite literacy, math, and social-emotional skills.
“If we can get students at a very young age and build foundational skills, and get them school-ready, we know that that will impact them throughout their school-age years,” Gfeller said.
The school was picked because only 40 of its 72 preschool slots for 4-year-olds were filled last year, Gfeller said.
“It’s important to note that it will add no staffing,” Gfeller said. “It will have no impact on the budget. We already have the teacher.” The school system is still waiting on approval from the state Department of Education. Gfeller said that was expected early next month. He added that Prince William County and Manassas Park already have programs for 3-year-olds, and that there’s already a waiting list for the Manassas City program.
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