School district struggles with kindergarten indecision
Officials unsure whether there are enough students for half-day program
Despite an outcry from parents at the last Moffat County School Board meeting, half-day kindergarten’s fate still is unclear.
In April, the School Board unanimously approved a plan to implement full- and half-day kindergarten programs beginning in fall 2009, pending the amount of interest in half-day kindergarten.
But after kindergarten registration last week, the number of students interested in half-day kindergarten still is unknown, school district assistant superintendent Christine Villard said.
“Right now, we’re not sure if there will be one or two sections,” she said. “We can’t tell if we’ll have enough students for sure – there are still too many tentative parents.”
Villard said a decision about half-day kindergarten would be made after parents submit their final decision May 11.
There was a larger than normal turnout for registration last week, Villard said, and it might have been a result of the option for full day.
“Most of the folks who came to register were ecstatic about the full-day option,” Villard said. “There was only a small minority of people committed to half-day.
“Most of the people who wanted the half-day option were families who felt half-day is what works best for them.”
Because the numbers are unknown, it has not yet been determined where the half-day kindergarten program will be housed.
“Our thinking at this time is that if there are a lot of students who are wanting half-day, we will try to put that section in one building,” Villard said. “If one of the elementary schools has more half-day students than the others, we will try to have it there.
“That way, there will be less of a transition for a fewer number of students.”
There will be about 200 students in the kindergarten program next year, Villard said, and a number of parents haven’t made a decision.
“Some people we know have kindergartners coming up didn’t register,” she said. “And there are a number of people still undecided.”
Once a decision is made, however, it will be final, and students will not be allowed to switch from one program to the other.
Villard said the final tally is taken in August as school starts.
“We don’t get every child registered before school is out in May,” she said. “And families move in and move out during the summer. Then, the only variable is more students moving to Craig.”
Villard said the amount of space available in the schools also could determine where the half-day program could be housed.
After enrolling in half-day kindergarten, a student would either enroll in their home school, or continue at the same school through school of choice.
“We told parents that if they chose half-day for their child there’s no guarantee where that section would be,” she said. “If it isn’t in their home school, they would have to be responsible for transportation.”
Villard said parents still could register for kindergarten at their home school.
“If they think their child will be attending East Elementary, they can go to East and register there,” she said.
“If it isn’t there, then the secretary can tell them which school to register at.”
The cost of adding full-day kindergarten is an additional $200,000 per year, Villard said. During its meeting last month, the School Board made the commitment to fund the program using federal stimulus money.
Ben Bulkeley can be reached at 875-1795 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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