Chat about Lawrence schools' implementation of all-day kindergarten

July 24, 2007

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Lawrence schools administrators Kim Bodensteiner and Bruce Passman, who are leading the district's expansion to all-day kindergarten in selected schools, will discuss how the project is progressing. They will answer readers' questions about the program.


Good afternoon. This is Dennis Anderson, managing editor of the Lawrence Journal-World. Our guests today are Lawrence schools administrators Kim Bodensteiner and Bruce Passman, who are leading the district's return to all-day kindergarten in selected schools Welcome Kim and Bruce.




Let's get to work. We have several questions from readers.


Great. We're looking forward to talking with your readers.


I think all day kindergarten is a great idea! It will certainly benefit those parents who work full time. Will this include ALL kindergarten schools? Public vs Non?


This year eight Lawrence Public Schools will have full day kindergarten. Those schools are Cordley, Hillcrest, Kennedy, New York, Pinckney, Prairie Park, Schwegler, and Woodlawn.


I think all children in lawrence would benefit from all day kindergarten. this seems unfair to some lawerence children - Sunflower elementary mother


The Board of Education has an interest in extending full day kindergarten to all Lawrence schools. This year the Board received targeted funds for programs for at-risk students. These are the funds that will be used to begin the full day kindergarten program in eight schools. The district did not have additional resources to expand beyond those eight schools this year.


If a student at a school that isn't offering full-day kindergarten this year and is considered to be at-risk attend a school that does offer the full-day program?


This is a student transfer question. Any parent who wanted their child to attend a full-day kindergarten school would need to request a transfer. Unfortunately there are a limited number of transfers that can be approved. These transfers are considered based on class sizes. The classes in each of our full day kindergarten at or approaching the class size limit. The deadline for submitting a transfer request has passed. We are also concerned about meeting the needs of at-risk students in any of our schools. Principals and teachers will certainly work with the parent and student to provide support and intervention services to meet the needs of student in schools with half-day programs.


The research on all-day kindergarten is mixed. Some suggests it helps (e.g., Weiss & Offenberg, 2002) and some does not (e.g., Stofflet, 1998; Hildebrand, 2001). According to LJWorld, ' The district offered all-day kindergarten at several schools from 1998 to 2001 but cut it because of budget constraints.' Thus, the school district has data or at least can look at the students previously enrolled and compare them to students enrolled in half-day kindergarten prior to 1998 or after 2001 in order to determine if the program does benefit students (e.g., better academic success). Did you do this comparison before reinstating the current all-day program? Additionally, now that half the schools have all-day and half do not, do you plan to follow students in each condition and make a comparison later in their academic life?


We did consider the data including published research and our own district data. We agree that the results are mixed. We are taking into account the best practices that can be gleaned from the research. With a well defined program, well defined curriculum and developmentally appropriate instruction we are implementing a more effective full day kindergarten program that is targeted to meet the needs of students. We now have better assessment data to help guide instruction and monitor student progress. With some of the changes that we are implementing in this full day kindergarten program we are optimistic about short term and long term gains for students. A program evaluation will be conducted to assess the impact of full day kindergarten in Lawrence.


During the debate about changing Sunflower to an ESL neighborhood school, we were told that full-day kindergarten would accompany this change. I'd like to know what the status is on that. I support bringing all kids in our neighborhood to Sunflower, regardless of language needs. But I also support full-day kindergarten and would like to know if this was dropped from the plan. Thanks!


Providing full day kindergarten in each of the ESL cluster or neighborhood schools is a goal of the Board of Education. The first eight schools were selected based on certain criteria including such things as socioeconomic status, history of assessment results for incoming kindergarten students and location of an ESL (English as a Second Language) program in the school. The criteria were applied to all of our elementary schools. The eight schools selected for this year were the top eight in terms of need. In the future the Board will strive to place full-day kindergarten programs in the designated ESL neighborhood or cluster sites.


My question is regarding the choices made for this year's all day kindergarten. Why did you not consider Wakarusa Valley as needing to be all day since there is no before or after school program, no transportation for the children except at the start of school and at the end, and no daycare operations in Lawrence go to this school to transport either? This is a major hardship on the children and on the parents. I understand that demographics (and revenue from area) were used on risk assessment but I think this is a huge risk and disadvantage for the children at Wakarusa Valley. Were these factors even considered when making your choices?
Thanks for your time.
Grandma making exceptions at job to accommodate.


As we outlined in the previous response, there were specific criteria used to determine the educational need of each elementary school. Those criteria and available funding determined which schools were selected for full day kindergarten this year.


The last time I checked Kansas law does not require children attend Kindergarden. Are you prepared to deal with the kids and parents that will opt out of Kindergarden all together?


You are correct. Opting out of kindergarten is an option for parents whether their neighborhood school offers full day or half day kindergarten. Of course, we would always encourage parents to enroll their children and take advantage of the programs offered by our school district. We believe that it is beneficial for children to attend kindergarten. We will continue to work with students and families, whichever choice they make.


I would like to thank Kim and Bruce for joining us today.


Thank you for the opportunity. We appreciate your interest in full day kindergarten. We want to remind parents that elementary school enrollment is right around the corner. Please plan to go to your child's school on August 1 for enrollment. Have a great school year!


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