JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Parents who want to get a jump start on their child's education know it means putting in the effort and even camping out overnight to sign up for pre-kindergarten.
Registration for the fall 2019-2020 Voluntary Pre-Kindergarten Program (VPK) in Duval County begins Wednesday from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. But many parents like Ayana Byrd decided to line up hours before sunrise to secure a spot in the free program.
“It’s very important. That’s why I’ve been here since 3:00. I just want her to have a good education. People have been since 3 a.m. or 4 a.m. We actually had someone try to cut in line. It’s pretty bad,” Byrd said about the line at Alimacani Elementary School on San Pablo Road.
“When I first looked it up, they said people spend the night here. When I talked to the school, they said they weren’t allowing that this year. But there was some confusion on exactly when because I think some people were here starting as early as early as 4 in the morning or something,” said Marianne Muma as she waited in line for register for grandson for VPK.
Registration is first come, first served and school sites are not able to hold seats for families, according to the Duval County Public Schools website. Once the seats are filled, families can place their child's name on a wait list while seeking other locations in their area that offer the program.
VIEW LIST: VPK Providers in Duval County
Schools like Atlantic Beach Elementary prepared for the crowds with help from DCPS police. They posted the following announcement on their Facebook page:
Due to VPK registration tomorrow morning, the DCPS police will be locking our gates this evening around 8:00 PM and taping off the front parking lots to prevent parents from camping out for registration. Per DCPS, potential VPK parents will not be permitted on campus to line up until after the DCPS police remove the tape and open the parking lots at approximately 5:00 AM Wednesday morning. VPK registration begins at 8:00.
There is NOT an emergency. The police tape is simply being used to prevent people from camping out on school property.
We are very flattered that so many families want to be ABE Dolphins! The same procedures are being followed at every beach VPK site.
For your child to participate, they must be age 4 on or before Sept. 1 of the current school year. Eligible children for the 2019-2020 school-year must have been born between Sep. 2, 2014 through Sep. 1, 2015.
An online application for the fall 2019 VPK Application can be found here.
Parents can also call the Early Learning Coalition of Duval at 904-208-2040 for more information.