Archive for Friday, April 6, 2001

All-day kindergarten may be expanded

April 6, 2001

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All-day kindergarten would expand to Woodlawn and Pinckney schools under a proposal submitted in to the Lawrence school district's budget committee in mid-March.

The recommendation from a study group was taken under advisement by members of the budget committee, some of whom expressed reluctance about expansion of a program in 2001-02 during lean budget times without direct evidence it would help students.

It would require the hiring of one extra teacher, which could cost the district an average of $41,000 in salary and benefits.

The group's request is timely, since Gov. Bill Graves a week earlier asked the Legislature to raise taxes to improve financing of public education, including creation of all-day kindergarten classes throughout the state.

Currently, all-day kindergarten is offered at five Lawrence elementary schools. About 200 students are served at Kennedy, East Heights, New York, Riverside and Cordley schools.

Approximately 500 kindergartners at the district's 14 other elementary schools are in half-day programs.

Terry Tuckwin, a Woodlawn kindergarten teacher who co-chaired the study group, said Woodlawn and Pinckney were recommended for all-day programs because both schools already had full-day preschool programs.

It's awkward for these children to attend school all day as preschoolers and then half a day as kindergartners, she said.

Co-chair Lesa Frantz, principal at Pinckney, said there was no doubt in her mind kindergartners would benefit academically and socially by spending the entire day in public school.

It provides teachers more time to deepen students' grasp of the curriculum, she said.

Centennial School also has a full-day preschool and half-day kindergarten, but Frantz and Tuckwin's group didn't recommend expansion there because the school doesn't have space for another classroom.

It's beyond the group's scope to delve into facilities issues, Tuckwin said.

Meanwhile, the group proposed the district form a task force to study the curriculum of full-day and half-day kindergarten classes.

There is concern it's not coordinated with preschool and first-grade curriculum.

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