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House Education Committee Testimony

Superintendent Smith testifies in Olympia on the importance of early learning

Tuesday, Jan. 31,  Superintendent Dr. Wade Smith traveled to Olympia to testify before the House Education Committee on the importance of access to early learning, highlighting programs like the district’s Transitional Kindergarten model, in addition to Head Start, ECEAP and other high quality private and not-for-profit options across the region.

He reinforced to the committee the critical need around access to high quality early learning programs, like the ones offered at the Walla Walla Center for Children and Families (WWCCF). “While Walla Walla has been a statewide leader in preschool education, dating all the way back to 1966,” notes Smith. “Providing opportunities to access preschool and other early learning programs has been shown to be one of the most effective strategies in preparing students to enter school. Every dollar we spend in early learning pays back six-fold in costs that would otherwise be required to remediate and catch students back up who are behind.”

Superintendent Smith highlighted Walla Walla Public Schools’ Transitional Kindergarten program that serves identified four-old-year students who do not qualify for Head Start and ECEAP early learning programs. His visit aimed at reinforcing programs like Transitional Kindergarten that will help ensure all students enter school socially, emotionally and academically prepared. Walla Walla Public Schools was one of the state’s earlier implementers of Transitional Kindergarten when the WWCCF opened.

Following Dr. Smith’s portion of the meeting, State Representative Sharon Tomiko Santos of the 37th Legislative District, who chairs the education committee, praised Walla Walla’s program as a model for the entire state. Representative Santos and other state legislators visited the Walla Walla Center for Children and Families earlier this school year. She stated during the House Education Committee meeting on Tuesday how impressed she was with the WWCCF and commended the district for its “exemplary” Transitional Kindergarten program.”

WALLA WALLA PUBLIC SCHOOLS • 364 South Park St. • Walla Walla, WA 99362 • Phone: 509-527-3000 • Fax: 509.529.7713

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