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Pre-K Funding Changes Coming to Virginia - abc27 WHTM

Pre-K Funding Changes Coming to Virginia

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Lynchburg, VA - Virginia's Preschool funding program is changing and that will have a big impact on both Lynchburg and Bedford County Schools.

The new format means both districts could lose at least three Pre-K Classrooms.

Right now both Lynchburg and Bedford County schools have wait lists for their Pre-K programs.

For years, both districts have asked to have more students take part, but the changes will actually take away places for nearly a hundred children.

A change in the way Virginia allocates Pre-School funding will mean fewer children in Miss Wilson's class.

The change will eliminate almost 50 classrooms across the commonwealth.

The new funding formula will keep more than 800 students out of pre-K statewide, 46 of them in Bedford County, 62 in Lynchburg, and four in Nelson County.

"Children who don't have pre-k have a high likelihood of being retained," said Brian Wray, Director of Instruction, Lynchburg City Schools.

The state puts up money for the program and the localities have to match.

In the past, some Northern Virginia cities like Manassas have decided to turn down the funds rather than match them, citing limited resources and a lack of classroom space.

"There is a 25% non-participation rate statewide...about a fourth of that money is not currently utilized," said Del. Scott Garrett.

Lynchburg and Bedford, however, have always matched the funds allocated and still maintain a wait list big enough to fill two more classrooms.

"Why can't we have the unused seats from other divisions?" Wray said.

While Delegate Garrett says he too believes Pre-K is important, he points out Lynchburg City Schools is getting an additional three million dollars in state K through 12 funding next year.

Garrett suggests they use part of that money to save their Pre-K programs.

"What we are fighting for are 4-year-old children who are at-risk to have the best start they can have," Wray said.

Although the state's changes to the funding formula will cut almost 900 pre-k slots from 30 districts, a few places like Amherst, Campbell and Appomattox Counties would gain anywhere from 5 to 25 slots.

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