Fairfax County will make a little progress in addressing its waiting list for publicly funded preschool this fall.
Fairfax County Public Schools has identified sufficient funding to add eight new preschool classes for the 2013-2014 school year, said Anne-Marie Twohie, director of the Fairfax County Office for Children.
This will allow 128 additional children to receive preschool services.
According to estimates released this spring, the county has more than 800 students on a waiting list to receive public preschool services. Both the county and the school system share responsibility for operating preschool programs.
In late June, the Board of Supervisors learned that the county will likely lose about $400,000 in federal Head Start funds, further reducing available services. There are about 2,000 children enrolled in Head Start in the county.
The new FCPS preschool services will not be funded through Head Start but instead will use a mix of “Priority Schools” funding, federal Title 1 grant funds and state Virginia Preschool Initiative funds. The school system’s Priority Schools Initiative is designed to provide additional program funding to certain schools in order to close the achievement gap.
The Virginia Preschool Initiative provides up to $3,000 per student, which must be matched by the local government.
According to an April report on school readiness by a private group, Fairfax County is currently using about 56 percent of the VPI slots that the state has authorized.
Supervisor Jeff McKay (D-Lee), one of the county board members who has been the most vocal about the need to close the backlog, praised the school system’s efforts as “a low-cost way to address it, utilizing existing resources.”