CHARLESTON, W.Va. – Universal preschool plans submitted by 23 counties received the stamp of approval from the West Virginia Board of Education on Wednesday, making the programs eligible to apply for funding.
The board approved plans submitted by Berkeley, Brooke, Fayette, Gilmer, Greenbrier, Hancock, Hampshire, Hardy, Jefferson, Kanawha, Logan, Marion, Marshall, Mercer, Nicholas, Preston, Putnam, Raleigh, Upshur, Wayne, Wetzel, Wood and Wyoming counties.
“Educational and political leaders across West Virginia have made early childhood education a priority,” said state Superintendent of Schools Jorea Marple. “Research shows that high quality preschool improves high school graduation and college attendance rates, employment and earnings and lessens future crime and delinquency.”
West Virginia has been recognized nationally for a progressive state law that requires universal preschool be available to all of the state’s 4-year-olds by the 2012-2013 school year. Half of the programs are in collaborative settings with Head Start, child care and private programs. State code requires counties to submit a plan to the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources and the West Virginia Board of Education every two years outlining progress. The remaining 32 counties have been audited for compliance with state policy to offer universal preschool by the deadline.
West Virginia also has been singled out for providing better access to preschool programs and dedicating more dollars to the effort than most other states in the country. The annual Pew report “Votes Count” cited West Virginia’s Universal Pre-K Program as an example of “smart, research-based policy and strong, sustained commitments.” The report evaluates state budgets to determine which legislatures count voluntary, high-quality pre-k among their top education reform strategies.
For more information, contact the Office of Communications at (304) 558-2699.