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Enhancing the Commonwealth's Early Childhood Education Efforts

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Associated Press
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Virginia has begun distributing the funds from a $17.5 million federal grant to expand and enhance the Commonwealth’s early childhood education efforts.  Governor McAuliffe toured one of the schools that received money for its program and explained that the funds will be awarded to 11 high-need school divisions.

The Governor says the federal grant will bring additional children into the Virginia Preschool Initiative, which currently serves 18-thousand at-risk four-year-olds.

“We are now able to provide pre-k for about 13,000 of Virginia’s students over the 4-year period.”

The goal is to give more preschoolers a solid foundation for learning that improves their readiness for Kindergarten.  The governor says Pre-K is an opportunity for 4-year-olds to get ahead regardless of their socioeconomic status.

“You can talk to any teacher who’s teaching kindergarten, and they can tell you immediately of that child has had a pre-k education or not.”

He explains how some of the funds will be utilized.

“We’re clearly looking at class sizes, we’re clearly looking – do we have enough teachers, and assistants, in those classrooms to effectively do what we need to do to build our education system.”

The schools are also offering focused outreach to families and communities, as well as individualized support for children with unique learning needs.  The participating school systems include Brunswick, Chesterfield, Fairfax, Giles, Henrico, Prince William, and Sussex Counties, as well as the cities of Norfolk, Petersburg, Richmond, and Winchester.

Tommie McNeil is a State Capitol reporter who has been covering Virginia and Virginia politics for more than a decade. He originally hails from Maryland, and also doubles as the evening anchor for 1140 WRVA in Richmond.
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