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School officials map out pre-K program

February 17, 2004|by CANDICE BOSELY

martinsburg@herald-mail.com

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - Plans to implement a pre-kindergarten program in Berkeley County by the year 2013 were discussed Monday night at the Board of Education meeting.

Dean Warrenfeltz, principal at Burke Street Elementary School and co-chairman of the pre-kindergarten program, said pre-kindergarten will be optional and open to all 4-year-olds in the county. He estimated that 1,500 students will enroll.

Starting with the school year that beings this fall, Berkeley County will hire a pre-kindergarten teacher and have the teacher work in a local day-care provider's facility, Warrenfeltz said.

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By 2013, the goal is to have half of the students attend pre-kindergarten in a private day-care facility and half attend in a county school, he said.

Forty students will be in the program this fall, with 20 in one half-day session and 20 in a second half-day session.

Although pre-kindergarten classes must be held at least three days a week, Warrenfeltz said he expects Berkeley County will hold half-day sessions five days a week.

Implementing the program was mandated by the state Legislature.

As more facilities are needed over the next few years, county officials may approach the state for construction funding. Potential properties are already being examined, Warrenfeltz said.

A planning committee in place includes school officials, Department of Health and Human Resources workers, day-care providers and the parents of a pre-schooler.

Other counties in the state already offer pre-kindergarten programs, in part to keep student attendance up and jobs available in counties with dwindling populations, Berkeley County Schools Superintendent Manny Arvon said at the meeting. He added that it is also a good program for children.

School board member Patrick Murphy agreed, saying 4-year-olds can learn a lot and that the program also could help parents who will be able to have a place for their children to go and learn during the day.

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