Loudoun County, VA (Oct. 19, 2015) – The Loudoun County School Board discussed additional details regarding options for expanding full-day kindergarten (FDK) at a work session on Tuesday, October 13th, at the Loudoun County Public Schools (LCPS) Administrative Offices in Ashburn.
LCPS Superintendent Dr. Eric Williams, Assistant Superintendent for Instruction Cynthia Ambrose, Assistant Superintendent for Support Services Kevin Lewis, and Director of Elementary Education Dr. Mike Martin provided an updated, more-detailed report regarding expanding FDK. This was done in anticipation of the release of the Superintendent’s Proposed Fiscal Year 2017 Budget and the 2017-2022 Proposed Capital Improvement Program (CIP). Williams is scheduled to release his Proposed Budget on January 7, 2016, and the Proposed CIP on November 10th.
Drawing on enrollment data from September 30th, Martin presented updated information regarding the recent expansion of FDK capacity and FDK participation. Participation jumped from 11 percent last year to 32 percent this year. Based on class-size caps, capacity currently exists to provide 34 percent of kindergarten students with FDK.
This school year’s expansion focused on student groups referred to as “criteria-eligible students”: students from low-income families; English language learners; and special education students for whom FDK is determined to be appropriate by an individualized education program (IEP) team. A limited number of additional students were placed in FDK through lotteries that were open to students in the attendance zone of an FDK school where space was available. Next year, the lotteries could be opened to students outside the attendance area of a FDK school.
LCPS anticipates that it may be able to expand capacity to provide FDK from 34 percent to more than 50 percent for next school year through the use of existing classrooms, explained Lewis and Martin. This would involve capacity for more than 900 additional FDK students. The estimated annual expense of this expansion would be $3.1 million, with an additional cost of approximately $3,300 per student served in a FDK class instead of a half-day kindergarten class.
LCPS may be able to further expand capacity to provide FDK to more than 60 percent of kindergarten students by 2021-2022 through the construction of three-classroom additions at three schools in the Dulles North planning area and three schools in the Dulles South planning area, Lewis said. This would require approximately $18.6 million of one-time capital costs and additional annual operating costs of approximately $1.5 million.
The total cost of expanding the capacity to provide FDK to kindergarten students from 34 percent in the current school year to more than 60 percent by 2021-2022 is estimated at $4.6 million in annual operating costs and $18.6 million in one-time capital costs.
LCPS continues to analyze the possibilities for expanding FDK beyond the level described at the October 13th work session.