Full steam ahead for full-day kindergarten

Moffat County School Board to begin process to implement program

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As a way to increase student achievement, the Moffat County School District will begin the process of implementing full-day kindergarten.

Superintendent Pete Bergmann received approval from the Moffat County School Board during its meeting Thursday to begin the process to bring full-day kindergarten to the district.

More than 15 parents were in attendance to hear the proposal, which, if approved, would take effect next fall.

The program will cost the district an additional $180,000 to $200,000, if approved.

"When we reconfigure our elementary schools, we will be able to accommodate all-day kindergarten," Bergmann said. "Last year, elementary principals and kindergarten teachers were able to meet regularly to research and develop the all-day program."

Bergmann said he had received support for the program throughout the district.

"The teachers, principals and administration all came to the conclusion that all-day kindergarten is the best early intervention program we could implement," Bergmann said.

Bergmann said there was growing support throughout Colorado for all-day kindergarten programs, noting that Moffat County currently is the only district in the state that does not offer all-day kindergarten.

Adding the extra time to the school day would be fine for students, Bergmann said, so long as it didn't resemble a first-grade curriculum.

"Five-year-olds can handle a full day in school," he said. "It just needs to be age appropriate."

Offering a full day of classes also allows the students more time to interact, giving them much-needed social skills, Bergmann said.

"The longer day will give students more time to focus on activities - they aren't constantly being shuffled from one activity to the next," he said.

The additional time in class would help students develop skills as they moved forward with their educational careers, Bergmann said.

"From research we gathered on the NEA (National Education Association) Web site, it been shown that children enrolled in all-day kindergarten classes show greater gains reading and mathematics than students in half-day classes," Bergmann said. "All-day kindergarten could be a benefit to all students, especially to low-income and minority students."

Zack Allen, Sunset Elementary School principal, said the extra time spent in school could potentially create savings.

"For every $1 invested, there would be a savings of $3," he said. "Investing in a child's social, emotional and intellectual skills early-on will lead to lower grade retention and dropout rates later on."

The School Board has yet to decide where the money will come from, or if the program will be optional.

Allen said funding options for full-day kindergarten included the mill levy freeze Supreme Court decision, which would phase in state revenue, and using federal stimulus money to grant every student a partial scholarship.

With the stimulus tuition aid, the rate would be $100 a month per student. Without the stimulus money, the tuition would cost $230 per month.

Allen said the added time in the classroom allows teachers more time to focus on specific areas for longer and more in-depth studying.

"Identifying learning challenges early will save money over the long-term," Allen said. "Teachers will be able to develop a deeper relationship with the students and be able to identify their learning challenges earlier."

Allen said one of the disadvantages of full-day kindergarten is a loss of scheduling.

"We would lose quite a bit of flexibility in our schedule, but that's a con we're willing to take on."

Allen said the NEA has policy priorities for full-day kindergarten, including mandatory attendance, teacher certification and class sizes of 15 students.

During the April School Board meeting, the board will decide the funding options.

Comments

mustang 5 years, 8 months ago

As I was reading this article a lot of questions came to mind. I am posting some of these on the forum in hopes of getting answers and I am sure that there are others who have the same questions. I believe that all day kindergarten is a good idea, I have neices and nephews who live in other towns who have had all day kindergarten and it has been a great benefit for them. One of my concerns is the cost of this program (I do realize that the financial aspect will be worked out in April). Mr Allen states that the tuition would be $230/ month without stimulus money, or $100/ month with the stimulus money. My question with this is will everyone be paying the same amount? Right now there are children who attend all day kindergarten due to special needs. Will the parents of these children have to pay the tuition? Mr Allen also stated that "the NEA has policy priorities for full-day kindergarten, including mandatory attendance." If it becomes required for the students to attend all day, why are the parents having to pay for it? Also what happens if the parents cannot afford it? Is the district concerned that there will be a decline in the number of students attending kindergarten because of the potential tuition?

As stated before I am in favor of an all day kindergarten and I feel that it would be great for my child. I am willing to pay for my child to get an education because it is important, but I feel that it should be fair.

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mustang 5 years, 8 months ago

Mr Allen, thank you for the information. I was unable to attend the last meeting, but will make it a point to attend the one in April. Thanks again.

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abecedarian 5 years, 8 months ago

Mustang posted some very good questions that were answered at the board meeting, but not in the article. The article wasn't entirely accurate either. I co-presented the full day kindergarten proposal to the board. Many of my quotes were listed as Mr. Bergmann's and Mr. Bergmann's quotes were listed as my own. In addition, the article stated, "that Moffat County currently is the only district in the state that does not offer all-day kindergarten." What Mr. Bergmann actually stated was that MCSD was the only district in Northwest Colorado not to offer all-day kindergarten. I believe that there may still be other districts in Colorado without it, but we have quickly become a very small minority.

Some elements of the funding discussion were missed in the article. We also proposed an option where there would be no cost to parents (at least for 2 years - while we have the federal stimulus funding). We agree with you in that charging tuition and whether or not to offer a choice between full day and half day are tied together. We recommended that the board consider both (as they are tied together) when making their decision.

If charging tuition is the option the board chooses to go with, it was presented that students who qualify for free or reduced lunch would have their tuition waived. It has not been discussed about whether students with special needs would also automatically have their tuition waved. We will need to look into that, if charging tuition is the direction that the board chooses.

There will be additional opportunities to have more of your questions answered before the April board meeting at each elementary school's PAC meetings on April 14th and at a district wide meeting on April 16th.

Zack Allen Principal - Sunset Elementary (970) 826-6505

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lonelyone 5 years, 8 months ago

My question is, how can you charge tuition if this is a public school and you may require these little people to go a full day? You don't charge tuition to any other grade. I would imagine you charge more then the 12 dollars my kids paid for book fees by now, but there was never a tuition charge. If that is what your going to do, I'd say it is just one more reason for parents to have their kids home schooled!

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