Gov. Timothy M. Kaine reiterated his desire to expand preschool options for Virginia children in the State of the Commonwealth address he delivered to the legislature Jan. 10, saying his budget plan offers a way to expand early-learning programs, including those offered by religious institutions.
“This year, we have the opportunity to offer this innovative educational approach to more of the commonwealth’s children,” said Gov. Kaine, a Democrat. “I have proposed pilot projects to expand the Virginia preschool initiative by including high-quality private preschool programs, including church programs, in our efforts to expand early learning.”
The governor will seek $4.6 million to expand preschool services in the second half of the 2006-2008 biennial budget. His proposed budget for direct aid to education is estimated at $5.8 billion in the second half of the two-year budget cycle.
Mr. Kaine, who is beginning his second year in office, spent much of his first year trying to tackle the state’s transportation woes. But education should not take a back seat, he said last week.
“I have made it one of the highest goals of my administration to dramatically increase the number of students who are able to read on grade level by the third grade,” he said. The governor has proposed $4.1 million to expand remedial-reading programs for 1st and 2nd graders.
The governor noted the state’s ranking in Education Week’s Quality Counts 2007 report, which put Virginia first on an index measuring the prospects of success for the children born in each state, based on a set of educational and other indicators from infancy to adulthood. Where Virginia scored lowest, he noted, was in the number of children in prekindergarten and kindergarten classes.
Mr. Kaine also recommended a 3 percent raise for teachers, which would cost the state $64 million.
A version of this article appeared in the January 17, 2007 edition of Education Week