Paid preschool at Windsor Elementary being considered

Published 4:20 pm Monday, February 24, 2020

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By Frederic Lee

Smithfield Times


Officials with Isle of Wight County Schools are taking steps to create a paid preschool at Windsor Elementary School at the onset of the 2020-2021 school year, to serve the needs of that area of the county due to the closure of a private preschool.

The annual cost for a preschool teacher and an assistant comes to almost $92,000 for fiscal 2021, but, according to Isle of Wight County Schools Superintendent Jim Thornton, the preschool would be nearly cost neutral if fees for each child are set at $4,000 each.

Thornton said that he and his administrative team were still batting around exact numbers for the cost of tuition, but if it’s set at $4,000 a year and 18 students enter the preschool, the revenue would almost outweigh the costs.

That fee is also the current tuition cost for an out-of-county student to attend Isle of Wight County Public Schools, according to Isle of Wight County Public Schools Spokesperson Lynn Briggs.

The preschool would operate on the same days as Windsor Elementary School — summers off, that is — and open to four-year olds, according to Isle of Wight County Spokesperson Lynn Briggs.

Windsor Elementary School currently opens at 8:35 a.m. with dismissal at 3:50 p.m.

Costs in Thornton’s budget proposal for the preschool amount to $91,950 — $61,470 for a preschool teacher and $30,480 for an instructional assistant — and revenues based on a $4,000 annual tuition with 18 pupils equals $72,000.

Windsor High School Principal Laura Sullivan brought the idea to Thornton and his administrative team, said Thornton. The Windsor area of the county was experiencing a need for a preschool, following the closure of a preschool at Windsor Baptist Church, according to Briggs.

Thornton said that the preschool teacher that would be hired may also work with and train high school students in a teaching capacity, as an expansion of the school division’s career and technical education program and part of the statewide Teachers For Tomorrow program.

Teachers For Tomorrow is a Virginia Department of Education recruitment strategy created for the purpose of increasing the pool of candidates who will be able to fill teaching vacancies and promote the hiring of local candidates who are more likely to remain within their school divisions, according to the department.

Briggs said that a cost analysis was done in the area to determine what the tuition rate would be.

While Briggs said that the school division currently has a prekindergarten program that would include children age 4, the program is not open to the public like kindergarten through 12th grade is throughout the public schools and is similar to the state’s Head Start program.

Head Start is a federal program that promotes school readiness of children from low income households by supporting comprehensive child development, promoting early learning, health and family well-being through local programs and grant funding.

Isle of Wight Academy offers preschool for children ages 2.5 through four. Annual rates for five days a week from 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. are $6,750 a year, and for five days a week from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m., the rate goes to  $7,250 a year, plus a $100 registration fee.

These rates also apply to preschool taking place during the Academy’s regular school session — not including summer, according to information provided by the Academy.


FREDERICK LEE is a staff writer at The Smithfield Times. Contact him at 357-3288 or