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Roanoke City Schools to lose 72 pre-kindergarten spots

Roanoke City Schools to lose 72 pre-kindergarten spots (Image 1) (Copyright by WSLS - All rights reserved)

ROANOKE (WSLS 10) - A new budget set to go into effect July 1 is expected to hurt Roanoke City Schools.

The budget changes the formula for how families qualify for pre-kindergarten education through the Virginia Preschool Initiative. The process will be simplified, based now solely on income.

That change means Roanoke City Schools will lose 15 percent of its pre-k students, or 72 spots.

Roanoke City Schools could lose 15 percent of pre-K slots

"Fortunately, K-12 was kept in tact and that was (Governor Terry McAuliffe's) promise," said Del. Sam Rasoul (D-Roanoke), who lobbied the governor to add an amendment to the budget. "Unfortunately, it's much harder on our primary school teachers if they're dealing with students that aren't prepared coming into kindergarten."

The governor signed the budget last week without offering a veto or an amendment. The criteria change also means fewer people will qualify. 

However, Rasoul is hoping that portion of the state budget won't impact families immediately. Since most pre-k registration is wrapped up before July 1, students won't use the new qualification rules until the 2016-2017 school year.

"Fortunately, that criteria won't take effect this year," Rasoul said. "While there are fewer slots to qualify for, it won't be so hard on families to qualify for the remaining slots."

He hopes it will give lawmakers enough time to make a change. Roanoke City School declined an interview request, but released a statement:

"We hope that we will be able to keep our pre-school slots for the 2015-2016 school year. We will work to provide the best possible pre-school experiences for our children in the future."