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Fairfax Schools May Lose Full-Day Kindergarten

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By Jonathan Wilson

Teachers, parents and school board members in Fairfax County, Virginia, are expecting another year of painful budget cuts. The superintendent rolls out his budget proposal Thursday.

A controversial target for cuts may be the districts full-day kindergarten program.

Up until a few years ago, students in Fairfax only attended kindergarten half-day, and one idea is to go back to half days for all but the schools with lowest income students.

School board member Jane Strauss is the group's budget chairman.

"We would be pulling it out of seventy schools, it would save 13.8 million, and it would be a terrible idea," says Strauss. "None of us want to do this."

Leonard Bumbaca, president of the county's teachers union, agrees full-day kindergarten is essential unlike, for instance, the county's much-praised foreign language program for elementary students.

Bumbaca helped create the program but calls it a fair-weathered project.

"I don't mean to make light of it, by calling it a fair-weathered project," says Bumbaca, "but it's something well have to retreat from and can comeback to, without having lost opportunities."

The district's estimated deficit for the coming fiscal year is $176 million.

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