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Changes Coming To Kanawha Co. Pre-K
By Kera Mashek
April 16, 2014

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CHARLESTON, W.Va. (Kera Mashek) In just a few days, some big changes happening in Kanawha County Schools, ahead of an even bigger change set to kick-in this fall.

West Virginia law will require all schools move to all day pre-kindergarten by 2015, but Kanawha County is making the change early and it's being met with some concerns.

Kanawha County Schools are empty right now as students enjoy spring break! But when classes resume Monday, there will be some big changes for preschoolers. Head \Start students at three schools will move to a full-time schedule, going to class four days a week.

"Hopefully it's going to provide better service for the kids and be able to allow them to have more time and school, and hopefully the parents will like it better," said Bob Calhoun, Kanawha County Schools elementary education director.

It's not just class schedules that will be changing. Students will also be on new buses. Four-year-olds will be grouped with all elementary students, instead of being bused separately like they are now with half-day school. The district says keeping separate buses for every elementary would be too expensive and a scheduling nightmare...

"If you're trying to do the busing the right way, how we're doing it now, the bus would pick them up an hour, hour and a half before regular school gets out and that bus would have to make that run and then get back to the school right away which is impossible to do," Calhoun said.

To help younger students adapt , aides will be put on every bus, but all these changes have a lot of preschool parents like Holly Murphy uspet.

"It's ridiculous. They're going to be terrified. I don't know what they'll do. A part of me doesn't even really want to send her because I think it's just too much and too soon," Murphy said.

The school district insists the pre-k changes will be a big benefit to parents by helping them cut back on childcare costs by offering full-time school programming. Murphy is worried, though, for kids of stay-at-home moms, like her daughter Regan, that all-day schooling will be too big of an adjustment.

"It's going to be hard for stay-at-home moms to not be around their babies. They're still babies at four I think. They're so little and cute and just shoving them into school all day...I don't know. I'm just not happy with it," said Murphy.

So she and some other parents are now considering private half-day preschool, but Kanawha County Schools are still hopeful most families are happy with the pre-k changes and that long-term all kids will benefit.

Meetings have been held with parents at the three schools that will be changing their schedules next week. This is considered a "pilot program" right now. So the district hopes any problems can be worked out early on, before every school moves to all-day pre-k in the fall.





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