Archive for Tuesday, May 16, 2006

All hope lost for all-day kindergarten

May 16, 2006

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Last week, Lawrence school officials said the chances of offering all-day kindergarten at each of the district's 15 elementary schools were between slim and none.

Forget slim.

"The money's just not there," Supt. Randy Weseman said.

The district, he said, expects to receive an additional $2.8 million under the three-year, $466.2 million school funding plan that lawmakers approved last week.

Weseman had hoped for twice as much.

"It looks like we'll get an additional $700,000 for at-risk kids," he said. "Now that sounds like a lot, but when you spread it across the 3,300 at-risk kids in the district, you'll see it doesn't really go very far."

Because the $700,000 is earmarked for at-risk students - a term often applied to children living in households with incomes low enough to qualify for free and reduced-price lunches - it can be spent on all-day kindergarten.

But it doesn't have to be. And that means all-day kindergarten would have to compete with all the other funding demands for at-risk students.

It won't happen, Weseman said. "Even if you said, 'OK, we're going to take this $700,000 and put it all toward all-day kindergarten for at-risk kids and we're not going to do anything for the at-risk kids who aren't in kindergarten,' it's still not enough," he said.

Board members shared Weseman's prognosis.

"The other thing that's going on is we've been told we'd have to have a stand-alone, half-day program for parents who, for whatever reason, didn't want all-day," said board member Cindy Yulich.

"We were also told half-day kindergarten couldn't be compromised by all-day kindergarten," she said. "We couldn't offer art, for example, to the all-day kids and not to the half-day kids. In other words, the half-day kids couldn't miss out on anything."

Another nail in the coffin: A recent survey of parents of 551 kindergartners-to-be not considered at-risk found that while 73 percent wanted all-day kindergarten, only 46 percent were willing to pay the $240-per-month fee needed to cover the program's costs.

Board members said they're now exploring the possibility of offering all-day kindergarten at schools with the most at-risk students.

Kennedy and New York schools would be at the top of the list because 86 percent of each school's enrollment is eligible for free and reduced-price lunches. Cordley isn't far behind.

But board member Rich Minder said the problem of picking only two or three schools for all-day kindergarten was made more complicated by the 105 preschoolers - all of them at-risk - about to graduate from the East Heights Early Childhood Center, 1430 Haskell Ave.

"That's an all-day program," Minder said. "At the very least, we should make sure these kids have access to all-day kindergarten."

Not all of the East Heights graduates will attend Cordley, Kennedy or New York next year.

New York Principal Nancy DeGarmo said she was hopeful all-day kindergarten would happen at her school.

"It doesn't look good for 2006-07," she said. "But we're going to do everything we can to make this happen. We're looking at all our options."

Until 2001-02, five of the district's elementary schools - Cordley, Kennedy, New York, Riverside and East Heights - had all-day kindergarten. The rest had half-day kindergarten.

Budget pressures forced the district to cut all-day programs back to half-day in 2002-03.

Riverside has since been closed and East Heights converted to house the early-childhood center.

Comments

its_obvious 9 years, 1 month ago

There needs to always be an option for half day. There are some kids who become more "at risk" by being away from home too much, too early.

Todd 9 years, 1 month ago

I think "at risk" mostly means poor. Great, I have a decent job and live next to a not-bottom-of-the-economic-ladder elementary school and so now my daughter can't get the best public education. Gee, honey if we sucked more and lived in a crappier neighborhood you could get a better education. Great lesson for the young one, the squeaky wheel gets the greese.

limehall 9 years, 1 month ago

Tanzer, the board member is talking about Senate Bill 549, the law just passed by the Legislature. It contained language limiting what schools could do with kindergarten programs. Just FYI...

Confrontation 9 years, 1 month ago

Todd: If you have all this money in your pocket, then why don't you hire a part-time tutor for your child? You have this option that lower-income families don't have, so take it. By the way, I don't think you could "suck" any more than you already do.

Todd 9 years, 1 month ago

Give me a break. How are the public school going to be any good if the kids of motivated parents are removed from the system? Why is it that public education is more for kids of poor parents than middle income parents?

You are right Confrontation, I do have a choice about education that others don't. And I use my choice to pick public education. Why can't you and other proud-to-be-poor people respect my choice(s)? I respect the choices of others but get a bit pissy to see my kid being treated less than others simply because I make "too much" at my job.

bankboy119 9 years, 1 month ago

Personally, I don't know why you would choose public education if you had the choice.

Don't get me wrong, I don't think that students who are poor should be allowed to go to all day kindergarten for free but I don't know why you would choose to send your child to a public school if you could afford not to do so.

hipper_than_hip 9 years, 1 month ago

I find it interesting that the Perry-Lecompton school district (USD 343) has all day kindergarten (no choice on either half or whole day), and Lawrence doesn't. USD 343 is populated by either rural or small town folks, all of whom make way less than your average Lawrence resident. As far as I know, there's no surcharge for all day kindergarten.

Confrontation 9 years, 1 month ago

Who said I have to be poor to understand the struggles of those with lower incomes? Your silver spoon getting a little hard to handle? I don't see how you can claim that parents with more money are more motivated. I've seen a lot of lazy a$$ parents driving around expensive SUV's and ignoring the fact that little Jimmy is failing all of his classes. More money is not always from motivation. They could be born rich, like you. Lower income parents have a bigger motivation for their kids to get educated and out of poverty. Please, do everyone else a favor, and keep your daughter out of public schools. If she's got your attitude, then she'll only hurt the system with her stereotypes and ignorance.

average 9 years, 1 month ago

hipperthan:

There is a state finance redistribution formula. How much the residents earn (or have, the tax base) is not the factor in how much they can spend. A fair bit of the recent lawsuits have been bigger districts (Dodge City and Salina bringing the suits) pointing out that the formula sends quite a bit more per pupil to smaller districts. I don't know the specifics with Perry-Lecompton, but I suspect they get more per-pupil money. If Lawrence had the money, there'd be no question about having all-day Kindergarten.

Todd 9 years, 1 month ago

Here I go feeding the trolls but....

I never said motivated parents had more money. And who cares about SUVs? The metric that matters is income because that's what the state uses to make decisions. (like who's "at risk" and this full-day Kindergarten deal)

Public school is suppose to be for everyone. That's why poor folks receive assistance, to level the field. Now I'm being told in order to level the field either I have reduce my income, move, or put my kid in private school. Imagine telling poor folks to do the same. There would be a firestorm. Middle income parents deserve the same public education for their kids as poor or high income parents. (from the public schools)

drake 9 years, 1 month ago

Right on Todd. Apparently Confrontation is just not very smart or more likely jealous of anyone who can afford an SUV or a silver spoon. Also notice the attempt to belittle someone who maybe has more than another by suggesting that they were born rich. Typical class envy.

J Good Good 9 years, 1 month ago

Well if you are so worried about the "poor" kids getting the something that your kid cannot send your kid to one of the target schools. Seems simple to me. New York has kids from all over town attending the school, because it is a great little school.

But heck I "suck more" and live in a "crappy neighborhood" so what do I know. Way to help out the civil discourse.

Todd 9 years, 1 month ago

Great, I busted my hump to get a house close to my neighborhood school and now I have to bus my kid to another school to get a better public education. What in the hell happened to our school system in the last decade?

No wonder homeschooling gets more popular every year.

Charles L Bloss Jr 9 years, 1 month ago

No free all day taxpayer subsidized baby sitter. Oh how that will stick in the craw of the liberals. What a sad day, even I am crying. Thank you, Lynn

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