Richmond school leaders defend Pre-K consolidation plan

By Matt Butner - bio | email

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Richmond school leaders are defending their proposal to move "Pre-K" students from five locations into one school. The planned move has angered some parents.

For Caroline Clark, deciding where to send her youngest daughter for Pre-K was a family matter.

"I sent her here to Mary Munford, even though I teach at another pre-school, because I wanted her older sister to help ease her into elementary school," said Clark as she waited to pick her daughter up Tuesday.

Other parents are worried that Richmond's planned Pre-K consolidation will prevent them from doing the same.

If the move is approved by the school board, Maymont Elementary will become a regional preschool in September. Pre-K children from five other schools would move there: Cary, Munford, Fox, Clark Springs, and the Preschool Development Center in Church Hill.

The kindergarten through fifth grade students and staff at Maymont now will move to Clark Springs Elementary next year. Superintendent Yvonne Brandon says all of this re-shuffling will ultimately mean more capacity city-wide for both preschool and kindergarten.

"3 or 4 years ago, people were camping out at these schools overnight in order to get a slot in a kindergarten class," Brandon said.

The district estimates the move will save the schools over $600,000.

"I'm looking at it beyond this year," said Brandon, "because next year we are projected to lose another $10.1-million on top of the $21.9 that we lost this year."

Dr. Brandon says aside from space and cost considerations, the new center should serve as a new way to give children a leg up as they prepare for kindergarten. Some parents aren't yet sold, and say it may be too late to do anything about it.

"Registrations are closed at a lot of pre-schools now, and just arranging getting your child to and from school is a difficult thing," said Clark.

The school board is expected to vote on the proposal at their June 7 meeting.

If you'd like to speak out on this plan, the school system will hold a public hearing next week. It will be on Thursday, May 27 at 6:00 p.m. at Maymont Elementary. That's 1211 South Allen Avenue. There will be a tour of the building before the meeting, at 5:00 p.m.

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