Pre-K classrooms added

PARKERSBURG – Wood County Schools have added two pre-kindergarten classrooms for this fall to help students remain at their home schools.

The Wood County Board of Education Monday unanimously approved adding classrooms at Fairplains Elementary and Williamstown Elementary schools. Joe Oliverio, director of elementary schools and pre-K programs, said the two classrooms were added for different reasons, but both will allow students from those school communities to remain at their home schools and not have to enroll at schools outside of their attendance zones.

Oliverio said the pre-K collaborative program at Loving Kindness Day Care ended when that facility closed earlier this month. Officials knew of the pending closure in March, which gave them time to look for a new pre-K location.

“We were fortunate enough to find space in Fairplains,” he said. “This will allow those students to start in pre-K and continue on through fifth-grade at the same school.”

Oliverio did not have an estimate on the number of students that would be affected by the closure or new program.

In Williamstown, officials saw the need for a second program when parents camped out at the school overnight to register their children for pre-kindergarten. Oliverio said 10 students could not be placed in the program due to class size limits.

“Last year the parents arrived early in the morning to stand in line. This year they started during the daylight hours the night before,” he said.

Oliverio said the families of those students who were registered but told they would have to attend classes at another school in the county will be contacted by Williamstown Elementary “in the order that they applied.”

Oliverio said those that have not registered students may contact the school to do so and will be placed on a waiting list.

The Board of Education on Monday also unanimously approved the first step toward a collaborative site agreement with West Virginia University at Parkersburg. The program would be located in the college’s new Center for Early Learning.

Oliverio said the agreement will go before the WVU-P Board of Governors next week.

Wood County Schools was one of the first counties in the state to achieve universal pre-K enrollment and West Virginia was the first state to achieve state-wide universal pre-K enrollment.

Oliverio said as of this week Wood County Schools has 510 students enrolled in pre-kindergarten programs. Of the district’s 41 programs, 19 are school-based and 22 are off-site collaboratives or Head Start programs, most of which are located in schools. State law requires at least half of all pre-kindergarten classrooms to be collaborative or Head Start programs.