An increasing number of parents in Fairfax County are upset with their school system because they feel their kindergarten-aged children have been forgotten at an age many education experts say is a critical for children to develop.
The dispute is over how much time is being spent in the classroom. Currently, more than 100 elementary schools in the county have full-day kindergarten classes. However, 37 schools only offer half-day programs.
“They all should have the same amount of time to get the curriculum in, especially because they’re all going to be first graders together,” said parent Shelly Modes.
Despite the difference in time all the kids are required to learn the same amount of material.
Some parents say that creates a stressful environment.
“There’s not enough time in the day,” said parent Dana Wozny. “These children are learning the same exact that the other kids are in the 100 schools in 7 hours when mine is getting 3-and-a-half hours. So it’s, get there, take off your coat quick, learn a song, run to this, run to that.”
The Fairfax County School Board said there was a recent three-year plan to roll out full-day kindergarten to every school, but due to the economy, that never happened.
“The budget picture we’re facing is that we’re funded right now less than what we were funded in the 2009 fiscal year and we’ve grown by thousands of students,” said Fairfax County School Board President Katy Smith.
Parents said they wanted the kindergarteners to have a voice, so they started a group called Fairfax for Full Day Kindergarten.
“We’re on fire. We’re growing by a hundred people a day in the last 10 days,” said group organizer Shaista Keating. “We’ve got teachers, parents. We’re excited. We just want to give 5-year-olds the best education in Fairfax County.”
Because the issue has come down to money, parents held a rally outside a school board budget meeting at Luther Jackson Middle School.
They’re hoping of the multi-billion dollars up for grabs, the school board will find a few million to help the kids.
Fan, Follow and Text: Get the latest from NBCWashington.com anytime, anywhere. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook. Sign up for our e-mail newsletters and get breaking news delivered right to your mobile phone -- just text DCBREAKING to 622339 to sign up. (Message and data rates may apply.)