Archive for Sunday, December 3, 2006

Switch to ‘all-day K’ would cost city $1M

Legislature to discuss full-time kindergarten

December 3, 2006


It comes with a fairly high price tag - about $1 million locally.

However, all-day kindergarten could be available next year in Lawrence, depending on the funding commitment level from the governor, the Kansas Legislature and Lawrence's own school board.

Educators and parents say children benefit from the extra learning time and from having more time to develop a relationship with their teacher.

However, the state doesn't fund all-day kindergarten programs - school districts that offer it pay for it themselves. And that's been a problem in the past for Lawrence's school district.

"There's not a board member who doesn't support and wouldn't love to do all-day kindergarten districtwide," said Sue Morgan, president of Lawrence's school board. "It's a resources issue."

It would cost $1 million to establish full-day kindergarten at each of Lawrence's 15 elementary schools, and that's if there is space available, Morgan said.

The board also has considered going to a need-based, phased-in program, where the children who would need kindergarten the most - those who might perform below-expected levels - would be served first.

The district did a limited all-day kindergarten program at five schools five years ago. It was mostly provided for students who were getting free and reduced lunches. The program was cut because of funding issues.

Two-thirds of state

Dale Dennis, the state's interim commissioner of education, said about two-thirds of all kindergartners in Kansas are in all-day kindergarten programs. Those programs are now being funded by the school districts themselves, he said.

If the Kansas Legislature decides to provide the funds, it will cost about $75 million, he said.

Bill Wagnon, a Topeka Democrat who represents most of Lawrence on the State Board of Education, said the board will take up all-day kindergarten funding at its meeting later this month.

Wagnon predicted the state board would support a three-year plan for funding all-day kindergarten.

"I don't think anybody is against it. Some districts just simply don't have the space. Others don't have the money. And to have it paid for by the state would be a great boon to those," Wagnon said.

Brooklyn Walker, left, points to the day Wednesday on a calendar and joins her kindergarten classmates and her teacher, Elizabeth Schmidt, in signing the letter "w" during calendar time in their Prairie Park classroom. All-day kindergarten could come to Lawrence next year, depending on state funding.

Brooklyn Walker, left, points to the day Wednesday on a calendar and joins her kindergarten classmates and her teacher, Elizabeth Schmidt, in signing the letter "w" during calendar time in their Prairie Park classroom. All-day kindergarten could come to Lawrence next year, depending on state funding.

Wagnon said Gov. Kathleen Sebelius has shown strong interest in early childhood education.

However, it's unclear whether the governor will include state funding for all-day kindergarten in the budget she submits to state legislators, who return to the Statehouse on Jan. 8.

"All-day K continues to be a passion of mine," Sebelius said. "We're going to look at years two and three of the education bill as I put together the budget and figure out what was mandated and what was left off and what we can look at to improve."

State Sen. Roger Pine, R-Lawrence, a former Lawrence school board member, said feelings are mixed among legislators about putting more funds into education.

"All of these legislators come from different parts of the state and have, in some instances, considerably different issues and financial situations to confront," Pine said. "So it's hard to get 100 percent agreement on almost anything. But I'm sure there would be quite a bit of support for this if we could find the money to do it."

Cost to families

One of the side benefits of all-day kindergarten programs is that they would help some families with child care issues.

"You've got a lot of two-career families. And you're having to shuffle the kids to another location in the middle of the day," Morgan said. "It's difficult to do."

Sally Kelsey, chairwoman of the Cordley School Site Council, said day-care costs can run several hundreds of dollars a month per child for working parents.

Bill Wagnon, a member of the Kansas State Board of Education, says the state board will discuss all-day K soon


Kelsey, who has a daughter who will be eligible to attend Cordley's kindergarten next fall, pays $625 a month for full-time day care.

With half-time kindergarten, day care would be reduced by only about $100 at Kelsey's existing day care.

But with full-time kindergarten, she could use an after-school program run by the school district through the Boys and Girls Club, reducing her family's cost to $40 a month.

Parents who choose to stay home until their children reach school age often find they can't return to work until their child reaches first grade, because of the transportation issues involved in half-time kindergarten, Kelsey said.

Continued push

Sue Morgan, Lawrence's school board president, discusses all-day kindergarten


At last week's Lawrence school board meeting, Vicki Penner, a member of the New York School Site Council, presented a letter pushing for all-day kindergarten. The letter also was signed by site councils at Cordley, Schwegler and Kennedy schools.

Several members of the Woodlawn Site Council also signed the letter, which asked the district to keep the option open of providing at least some all-day K in Lawrence.

"I think we need to keep pressure on the state," Penner said.


sublime 11 years, 2 months ago

All day-k? I don't think its necessary.My daughter is in kindergarten.I think that first year of half days gives them a chance to adjust.

KS 11 years, 2 months ago

At last week's Lawrence school board meeting, Vicki Penner, a member of the New York School Site Council, presented a letter pushing for all-day kindergarten. The letter also was signed by site councils at Cordley, Schwegler and Kennedy schools.

Several members of the Woodlawn Site Council also signed the letter, which asked the district to keep the option open of providing at least some all-day K in Lawrence.


Okay, LJW.....did the letter that was apparently signed by all, "PUSH" for all day K or "ASK THE DISTRICT TO KEEP THE OPTION OPEN"?

Miss Sue says, $1 million dollars to do this. Nice sounding round number. Oh heck, what's another tax increase?

Gotta get out of this town.

Shardwurm 11 years, 2 months ago

$1 million dollars for what? Salaries? Electricity?

I'm not sure where the cost is going. Most of the teachers are already there for the full day. The facilities are paid for for the full day.

Where is the cost?

This shouldn't surprise anyone though - Lawrence is a bedroom community and virtually every young family is two-income. Full day kindergarten (i.e. daycare) really helps out a lot.

Richard Heckler 11 years, 2 months ago

All day K was around in the 50's and we walked to school which was about a mile. Initially we were driven. Sooner or later we realized it was more fun to walk...quite a social event.

Would the parents would pay the school district $500-600 a month for the continuity and structure that kindergarten might provide?

Would K be better than day care centers? Probaly in some cases? Single parent households no doubt could benefit.

It seems that children thrive when around very involved parents all day when that is possible.

Is living in Lawrence worth creating a situation where two jobs are absolutely necessary when it requires day care centers?

Nikki May 11 years, 2 months ago

Most of the teachers ARE there full time, but most of them teach two classes. If the kids are there all day, those two classes would need two teachers.

chuckh 11 years, 2 months ago

Sure I would love to pay for everybody's daycare but I cannot afford it! We already are sacraficing another salary by having my spouse staying home! Why can't this newspaper write a balanced story on this comments or mention that some parents have justification for NOT wanting full-time kindergarten. Our media editorializes too much these days and tries to pass it off as balanced reporting. Thanks newspaper Editors!

toefungus 11 years, 2 months ago

Keep raising taxes. I am going to organize a movement for free heathcare for all who live in Lawrence. Just takes a few more tax increases. Heck, with time, even Self's $1.6 million will not be enough.

SpeedRacer 11 years, 2 months ago

So, if we don't build a new library we can fund this for 30 years?

rhd99 11 years, 2 months ago

Who in the heck from the Legislature is throwing out these dollar figures in this all day Kindergarten debate? By the way, how long is it going to last for all day Kindergarten IF Topeka FINALLY wakes up & GETS TO WORK? Well, All Day Kindergarten, I hate to tell you, won't last as long as Jim Barnett, Susan Wagle & some other low lives in the Legislature get their way like they did during the school funding debacle that THEY created. Do I want November's election results to reflect some positive change in the state's political & education environments? Sure I do, but I also hope we look at this all day Kindergarten issue from a realistic standpoint for the main reason I just stated. It's time to work on behalf of our children & STOP supporting low life lawyers who care about NOBODY or nothing but themselves! Barnett is no lawyer, I'll give you that, but Wagle & others, SELF Centered PIGS!

Amy Bartle 11 years, 2 months ago

Cost is a concern, but school districts currently offering full-day kindergarten deal with funding issues in a number of different ways. Many schools that serve low-income and language minority students use Title I money to support their programs. Other schools rely on private or state grant funding, and still others charge parents partial tuition to offset the cost of the extra hours added to the kindergarten day.

Shardwurm 11 years, 2 months ago

"Most of the teachers ARE there full time, but most of them teach two classes. If the kids are there all day, those two classes would need two teachers."

Yeah that makes sense. Too bad teacher salaries get the worst return for the dollar of anything we spend money on.

rhd99 11 years, 2 months ago

Teachers' salaries, Shard are getting the worst return as far as our tax dollars go, because central school district offices continually decide that more "administrative professionals" are needed to fill some kind of void. What void, you might be asking? How 'bout NCLB. Oh, yeah, we are improving education so much that by worrying about teaching to the test, we forget all kinds of things that SHOULD matter in education, INCLUDING kindergartners. Administrative professionals, what a load of JUNK!

budwhysir 11 years, 2 months ago

I must say how interesting I find this. In todays "NO CHILD LEFT BEHIND" school setting, I am amazed at how things are ran. In the school my kids attend, they have 2 teachers for each class from k-6 grades. On top of that, the kids that attend kindergarten will start attending first grade full time the following year. Doesnt make sense to me.

I believe the same buracracy is going into these figures that was put in place to cancel school due to weather on Thursday. Can you imagine the costs of releasing our kids early once a week for teachers to do planning? I am left to wonder if there will ever be an evaluation showing how much early release days cost.

Our childrens education should not and is not based on cost. If you want to look at cost, lets take a look at all the new school buildings we are building and how many empty school buildings we have produced over the last 10 years. We can spend millions on new school buildings but we cant allow the kids to attend school all day the first year do to the cost of all day kindergarten.

person184 11 years, 2 months ago

All the conservative pedagogy aside, I wonder what the research says.

Curious 11 years, 2 months ago

My personal research, based on four children, says all day Kindergarten is good and can be CHEAPER . . . IF it is every other day.

My kids were in small town USA where they couldn't afford to bus in the middle of the day. My kids loved going to school all day. The teacher got a lot of extra things done with the kids, plays for the parents, etc.

AND my kids loved the next day off. I was home with them but even day care might work out if one could split shift with another parent whose kid was in school on opposite days. Again, the teachers loved having the next class all day. One semester the class met M W F and the next semester met T Th to get the required number of days in. Worked out very well.

justathought 11 years, 2 months ago

I think all day is too long for 5 year olds, but I'm just a sham so what do I know.

Curious 11 years, 2 months ago

All day works because there is a nap time and lots of recess. So many five year olds are old hands at being away from home all day prior to entering Kindergarten. My kids weren't, but they were active all day at home. Naps ended before they were four at our house.

I do think they would have been exhausted though if school had been every day because they weren't in preschool or day care.

My thought is money could be saved by having school all day but not every day.

chuckh 11 years, 2 months ago

Mr. Dave Toplikar, the writer for this story. I guess that it was easier to only interview Dale Dennis, Bill Wagnon, and Sue Morgan (all of whom support all-day kindergarten) rather than people (parents and taxpayers) who are AGAINST all-day kindergarten. My very unscientific poll of this blog showed that 10 out of 14 posts were AGAINST all-day kindergarten! If I remember correctly, when parents of kindergartners voted whether or not to pay for all-day it was firmly defeated. But of course, every freeloader loves a free lunch so our school board is giving it one more try by saying that it will not cost parents a nickel. Then they are going to pass this for sure! I can't wait to rally as many people as possible to vote all of those USD497 School Board Members out of office if they enact that! Chew on that Sue Morgan!

KS 11 years, 2 months ago

rhd99 -- Why do you have to get so personal? Do you think that helps your argument? I don't think so. As soon as you get personal, I stop reading. Stick to the argument at hand and don't attack people you don't even know. Good grief!

rhd99 11 years, 2 months ago

KS, the truth hurts. Why don't YOU check your facts first before leveling attacks against me. I don't have to know those politicians in Topeka. The Governor herself made education a priority. Barnett & Wagle & others knew it & blew it. You can't stand the fact that there are more people who dislike the methods the Republicans continued to use to stymie our children's education through bitter politics. Do YOU, KS have the money to pay for our schools yourself? Did the Republicans in Topeka do their job? If so, then why did we have the long school funding lawsuit? They did NOTHING in Topeka to help our children! KS, PUT your MONEY where your MOUTH is!

whatintheworld 11 years, 2 months ago

I do daycare in my home so that my children can be with me during the early years. I don't want them to go to school all day. Half a day is plenty.

I am curious though... I seem to remember some one telling me that kindergarten is not required in the state of Kansas. So is it possible that we wouldn't have to send our kids all day if we didn't want to?

AHHH....Kids grow up too fast. I don't think it is fair to us that do stay home to have to send our kids all day! Every minute spent with them is precious and you can't put a price tag on that !!!!

chuckh 11 years, 2 months ago

Dear "whatintheworld", you are correct that kindergarten is optional in the state of Kansas. However, at Kindergarten Round-Up this year at Sunflower Elementary, Dr. Smith (the principal at the time, she has since left for Blue Valley S.D.) told us, that if USD497 went to all-day kindergarten, that children who only went during the morning would miss out on subjects such as Art and Music. She said that those most likely would be done during the afternoon session. Maybe you were not aware of that because our school board tried to downplay that issue because they really wanted parents to vote for all-day kindergarten.

redneckwoman 11 years, 2 months ago

There wasn't all day K for my 12yr'd. Wish there was, he could have benefit from it greatly. But now in my small town U.S.A. there's all day K & I just love the idea of my 2 younger one's benefiting from it. They just love pre-school so much they hate it when it's time to go home & that they only go 3 day's a week. And yes it will give me the chance to go back to work part time at least. Is school free for us NO!

Most couple's do set up a "plan or goals" before they start a family, but thing's do happen that cause that "plan or goal" to go up in smoke.

I could be wrong but, the last time I checked a U.S. citizen had a right to a free education. But I'm told we make too much yet we struggle.

I would think that paying $150 a month for all day K is still cheeper than $650 a month for daycare. If that was my choice I'd take the $150.

Christine Pennewell Davis 11 years, 2 months ago

people have you thought that school should not be about the money all day kindergarten is a good idea better for our kids in the long run and for alot of people it is not the money that is the problem.

rhd99 11 years, 2 months ago

mommaeffortx2, that is the problem, isn't it? The legislators in Topeka on the Republican side have turned a bipartisan issue of education into a partisan view on how much money it will cost THEM. They have thumbed their noses at our children & schools for the last time. They supported Bob Corkins, look at what transpired about two weeks ago, not long after the November general elections. Money is the problem when you have people in the Legislature refusing to fund education, thereby creating all on their own a contentious litigation trail to the Courts that cost US lots of money & time that should have been spent on teaching our children.

ECM 11 years, 2 months ago

Lawrence had several schools that had all day Kindergarten for years.

Gee why don't they look at the performance of those students in the district vs. those in 1/2 day Kindergarten.

There are hundreds. Seems like that might be a statistical, quantitative way to prove out the worth.

prioress 11 years, 2 months ago

Oh, wait. I forget. Mandatory, compulsory education provided by the State substitutes for community in this country.

Kindergarten, 1/2 or full day, is not required. Students don't have to start school until they are seven.

packrat 11 years, 2 months ago

I am personally against all day kindergarten. Why should my family pay more taxes to subsidize someone else's daycare issues? My spouse and I cherish the half-days of the kindergarten year as a time to bond with our children.

My compromise is to have some schools offer a kindergarten magnet program which must be paid for by the participants. 450 participants paying $300 a month for 9 months = $1,215,000. The parents who want to join must pay for it.

budwhysir 11 years, 2 months ago

Amazing that this subject is still getting posts. I am glad to see that everyone can do the math. Someday, we will have all day kindergarten and it will cost 2 million a year.

The numbers are crazy here but soon we will need to build a new building specialy designed for kindergarten. The buildings we have now wont pass the grade.

Godot 11 years, 2 months ago

Someday we will have public all-day care from birth, and it will bankrupt our society, but, after all, it takes a village to raise a child, right?

budwhysir 11 years, 2 months ago

Glad to see we are still getting posts in here. I hope this figure was taken into account during the meeting about the 10 mil we need for maint. costs.

I dont know why everyone is talking about all day kindergarten and comparing it to child care. Kids go to child care so they dont stay at home alone. Kids go to school to learn. If all day kindergarten helps them learn then it should be available.

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