• 43°

Virginia Preschool Initiative

It will soon be time to enroll 4-year olds in preschool here in Charlotte County.

Children are excited and parents are often sad to see their little ones begin this journey towards a high-school diploma. Preschool is not a requirement in Virginia, but research indicates most students who attend preschool are better prepared socially and academically for kindergarten. Preschool is especially important for students who have indicators which make them at-risk for academic struggles. The Virginia Preschool Initiative (VPI) was established to provide supports for these at-risk 4-year olds in order to give them a better chance of being successful in kindergarten.

The VPI process begins with registration. This year, Charlotte County Public Schools (CCPS) will not only offer traditional pre-kindergarten enrollment at each of our elementary schools, but we will also offer several “mobile registrations” at sites throughout the county.

Our goal is to make preschool accessible to any student who qualifies. Once students have registered, they are administered screening tests to determine what they know. Students who score low on this screening are more likely to need a year of pre-kindergarten to be prepared for the kindergarten classroom.

Once the screenings have been completed, parents will be asked to verify their income. Poverty is a major factor linking children and their ability to be successful in kindergarten. VPI requires students from lower-income households to be offered pre-kindergarten spaces first. Besides income and screening results, the number of parents in the household, educational attainment levels of the parents, and disability status of the student are also VPI acceptance factors.

VPI funds the majority of pre-kindergarten slots in Charlotte County, while the remaining slots are funded through the Title 1 program. The Title 1 slots are filled after VPI slots, and these spaces allow us to have more flexibility in enrollment requirements. Because our goal is to ensure that all our at-risk students are enrolled, final selections are not made until the end of June. In fact, we are required to hold a number of slots open until school starts in case at-risk students move into the county.

Pre-kindergarten attendance is critical to level the playing field for at-risk students as they enter kindergarten the following year.

CCPS is committed to helping families and students who need an extra boost as they prepare for their educational journey.

Robbie Mason is the superintendent of CCPS. His email address is masonr@ccpsmail.com.