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Hopkins House Keeps Pressure on City Council

April 16, 2016 07:50 PM
At a public hearing today, Hopkins House Board Chair Julie N. Jakopic (pictured above), joined by board member Rob Dugger, and Helen Day Preschool Academy parent Cory Peña, pressed the Alexandria City Council to resist the Alexandria City Public Schools’ proposal to move its at-risk preschoolers into a "Pre-K Center" in order to relieve overcrowding in school buildings.

In a recently published letter to the editor (page 12), Jakopic summarized the issue and made clear that while Hopkins House supports the public schools' need for additional classroom space and a new elementary school on the west end of the city, "Where we continue to disagree is the plan to use a single, leased building…to house classrooms for 360 or more at-risk 4-year olds."

"There is no developmental evidence," Jakopic said in her written statement to City Council, "that a site this large can be an effective and appropriate learning environment for young children."

Dugger, who in addition to being a Hopkins House trustee is a cofounder of ReadyNation, a national early care and education advocacy organization, also questioned the wisdom of this plan in his written statement to City Council, and questioned the $3 million cost to tax payers.  "It’ll just hurt kids and increase parent stress."

"Diversity is an important part of a well-rounded education. Exposure to various cultures, religions, music, languages, and even socio-economic statuses gives children a full-world view", argued Peña in her written statement. Peña is a parent of a preschooler and an early childhood education student. "Children who grow up with limited socioemotional spheres often tend to have trouble transitioning into a setting outside of that sphere."

Alexandria City Public School teachers speaking at the hearing, also spoke about the several benefits to children and families of having preschools located in school buildings.