Virginia Beach School Board votes to expand full-day kindergarten

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. - School board members voted to expand full-day kindergarten in the city on Tuesday night.

In a 6-5 vote, the school board decided the program would start phasing in at the beginning of next school year.

The division previously offered half-day to most students.

The school board asked the city council for $14 million to begin the process. 

A portion of the requested funds would also be used for the required local match to expand pre-kindergarten programs under the Virginia Pre-School Initiative.

"I like the idea. I think it would help a lot of families," said Andrea Simmons, the parent of a kindergarten student. "I don't think it's a waste of money. It's an investment in our future."

Students from lower income neighborhoods, or those who need extra help, previously could be eligible for full-day kindergarten, but that doesn't include everyone.

Parents often times have to find daycare or other arrangements for their kids. "I would look forward to it," said Simmons. "I know a lot of my friends, who have younger kids getting ready to go into kindergarten, they're like, 'Oh, I hope they pass that.'"

Two school board members signaled they wouldn't support it before the vote, saying the money isn't there. "I'm very reluctant to ask our citizens - to ask them to pay more taxes," said Carolyn Weems, a board member.

In addition to the kindergarten change, the initiatives included in a new budget plan are a 2 percent raise for all staff, flat health care costs for employees, and the allocation of 40 positions to help strategically reduce class sizes at the secondary level.