CHIPLEY, Fla. (WMBB) — A brand new Voluntary Pre-Kindergarten is under construction in Chipley. VPK prepares students for their next 13 years in a classroom. 

Florida school curriculums are constantly becoming increasingly more challenging, and Washington County School District officials say it’s important for children to get head-starts on their education. 

“The earlier the intervention, the better the outcome,” said Washington County School District Teacher Linda Mincey. “If we get students at a younger age and teach them the foundation for the future, then it’s a win-win situation.”

Chipley’s current VPK has reached capacity, and officials say it’s important to expand and educate as many children as possible. The school will be primarily made up of 4-year-old students who will be taught how to recognize letters, numbers, and shapes. They’ll also learn how to socialize with their peers in a classroom setting.  

“The state of Florida is very focused on preparation,” said Washington County School District Superintendent Joe Taylor. “They want them to have the skills. They want to have the exposure of what school is all about. While it’s not mandatory, VPK participation is absolutely encouraged at all levels.”

Ground was broken on the project a month ago, and the school is on track to open in May. Officials encourage parents to enroll their children in VPK so they can start laying the foundation of their early education. 

“The skill levels that we expect when they roll into first, second grade aren’t what it was, say, 20 years ago,” said Taylor. “The main thing that we’re trying to do is get the students ready and get them exposed to things and that way they are geared up for a good grade level.”

The project costs $5.1 million and is being funded by the state.