Gov. Justice signs bill raising pre-k and kindergarten enrollment age
By Ryan Quinn, The Charleston Gazette-Mail
The dates by when West Virginia children must enter kindergarten and must be offered free kindergarten and pre-kindergarten are set to change in the coming years.
Gov. Jim Justice on Tuesday signed into law Senate Bill 186, which will eventually move from Sept. 1 to July 1 the cutoff date for when a child must be a certain age before being eligible, and eventually being required, to enroll in different levels of early education.
In recent years, the three months with the most births came after July 1.
The House of Delegates passed the bill 74-26 April 4, and on April 5 the Senate passed the final version of the bill 32-2 after agreeing to the House’s amendments.
Starting in the 2018-19 school year, free early education programs will have to be offered statewide to all kids who are 4 years old by July 1, rather than Sept. 1, of the school year in which their families plan to enroll them. Public school systems’ fiscal years begin July 1, and each fiscal year contains a single school year.
Enrollment in 4-year-old pre-kindergarten will continue to be voluntary.
Beginning in the 2019-20 school year, county public school systems must offer to provide kindergarten to all children who are 5 years old by July 1, rather than Sept. 1, of the school year in which their families plan to enroll them.
Also as of that school year, all children who are 6-years-old by July 1, rather than Sept. 1, of a school year must enroll in kindergarten.