School Board to hear proposal for Chester Early Childhood Academy

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Chesterfield County Public Schools is proposing the creation of the Chester Early Childhood Academy, a unified pre-kindergarten center that would serve students from 11 elementary schools in the eastern and southern portions of Chesterfield County. School division leaders will present the concept at the School Board work session on Oct. 27.

The Chester Early Childhood Academy would be located in the old Harrowgate Elementary School, which will be retrofitted with cost savings from 2013 school bond projects.

The Academy would serve pre-kindergarten students from Bellwood, Beulah, Curtis, Ecoff, Enon, Gates, Harrowgate, Marguerite Christian, Salem Church, Elizabeth Scott and Wells elementary schools. The school division would provide transportation to the Academy.

Approximately 480 students could be served onsite in Head Start, Virginia Preschool Initiative (VPI), Early Childhood Special Education and Title I classes.

“This proposal makes use of an existing school facility, and provides the school division with an opportunity to potentially serve additional pre-kindergarten students while also reclaiming space within some schools that are nearing enrollment capacity,” Superintendent Dr. Merv Daugherty said.

Chesterfield County Public Schools currently serves 987 pre-kindergarten students, a 46 percent increase during the last five years. However, the school division does not currently have the space to serve all students who have been determined eligible to receive pre-kindergarten services. Chesterfield County Public Schools spends $8.6 million in state and grant funding, but annually declines millions of unspent state funding because of a lack of classroom space.

By consolidating pre-kindergarten classes to a central site in the southern part of the county, some schools could see trailers removed from their campuses by gaining available classrooms inside the physical school structure.

The school day would run from 9:25 a.m. to 3:55 p.m., with before- and after-school services available.

After presenting the proposal to the School Board during the Oct. 27 work session, the school division will seek formal Board approval at its Nov. 10 business meeting.

The school is projected to open in Fall 2021, with an open house for pre-kindergarten enrollment in April 2021.

More information about the proposal can be found here.

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