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Archive for Tuesday, April 24, 2007

County lags far behind peers for early childhood programs

April 24, 2007

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Sage Reed, a student at the East Heights Early Childhood Center, looks inside a bass fish's mouth with Stephanie Manley, paraeducator. Manley and the children were studying aquatic life Monday. The proportion of schools offering pre-kindergarten and other programs for at-risk 4-year-olds has risen statewide, according to the 2007 Kansas Kids Count report.

Sage Reed, a student at the East Heights Early Childhood Center, looks inside a bass fish's mouth with Stephanie Manley, paraeducator. Manley and the children were studying aquatic life Monday. The proportion of schools offering pre-kindergarten and other programs for at-risk 4-year-olds has risen statewide, according to the 2007 Kansas Kids Count report.

Douglas County trails most Kansas counties in educational programs offered for young children, according to the newly released 2007 Kansas Kids Count figures.

Specifically, the numbers show the county isn't keeping pace with other counties' all-day kindergarten, Head Start and pre-Head Start programs, according to Rich Minder, a local child advocate and a member of Lawrence's school board.

"The fact that we're lagging behind other urban counties in the state ought to be a wake-up call to our community in where we need to spend our money," Minder said.

The report, produced annually by Kansas Action for Children, a Topeka-based advocacy group on children's issues, was released early today.

The Douglas County numbers were released by Minder, who is collaborative projects coordinator for Success by Six Coalition of Douglas County, a group of agencies and individuals working to improve early childhood education programs.

Minder said Douglas County falls short in all-day kindergarten, compared with the rest of the state and its peer urban counties: Johnson, Shawnee, Wyandotte and Sedgwick, which have more than 150 residents per square mile.

The figures show 4.35 percent of the elementary schools in Douglas County - only in Eudora - offer all-day kindergarten, compared with 53.09 percent of peer counties and 59.66 percent of all Kansas counties, Minder said.

"It tells me that other similar counties around the state in terms of population size and urban density are figuring out - 53.09 percent of them - how to get all-day kindergarten," Minder said. "That's one thing that really stands out."

Lawrence's school district has considered going from half-day to all-day kindergarten. But district officials have said costs are expected to be close to $1 million.

Gov. Kathleen Sebelius has proposed spending $15 million to start a five-year phase-in of all-day kindergarten statewide. So far, lawmakers have declined to endorse the recommendation. They will come back Wednesday for a wrap-up session and may consider it then.

Minder also said the Kids Count figures show Douglas County is behind in providing Head Start services. Head Start provides early childhood education for children ages 3 and 4 from families that are below the federal poverty guidelines.

Kids Count figures show Douglas County has 26.7 slots per 100 children who qualify, Minder said. In peer counties, the number is 39.5 slots. And the statewide figures show there are 62.7 Head Start slots per 100 children below the federal poverty guidelines.

"The fact that we are below our peer counties and the state is pretty disappointing," Minder said.

Early Head Start services, which are for children ages 0 to 3, are even worse in Douglas County, Minder said. There are zero slots in the county - compared with 4.0 slots in peer counties and 6.0 slots in the state - per 100 children below the federal poverty level.

However, that may change soon. The Legislature is considering providing funding to Douglas County for Early Head Start programs, Minder said.

Carolyn Kelly, executive director of the Community Children's Center, which is the Head Start Program in Lawrence, said if funding is approved, the state could provide as many as 20 slots total for the county next year.

Comments

average 7 years, 3 months ago

Is there anything to the theory that other districts encourage parents of special-needs children to move to Lawrence (i.e., for the autistic program)? I know two families who moved here for that reason, and both had USD 497 suggested by administrators in the districts they came from. If this is true, it doesn't help our budgeting for full-day K.

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Jamesaust 7 years, 3 months ago

"Douglas County falls short in all-day kindergarten, compared with the rest of the state and its peer urban counties: Johnson, Shawnee, Wyandotte and Sedgwick"

Those are NOT peers of Douglas Co. You don't have to watch much Sesame Street to know that one of these things is not like the others!

Why is this program trying to slant their comparisons?

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Dale Stringer 7 years, 3 months ago

Instead of "all-day kindergarden", why don't they say, "a half-day of free daycare"?

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prioress 7 years, 3 months ago

Is there anything to the theory that other districts encourage parents of special-needs children to move to Lawrence

Probably; people, particularly those with money, make choices to benefit their children. Being in the town with the #1 rated special education department in the US has some benefits.

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Kelly Anderson 7 years, 3 months ago

IT IS NOT "A HALF-DAY OF FREE DAYCARE"!!!!!! I am so sick of the comments from people saying that parents want all day kindergarten because it is free day care or cheaper for the parents. Some of the households have both parents that work and have to have supplemental care for their children before AND after school, that is on top of what we pay to the school district in Lawrence for enrollment!!!! Eudora's schools have no charge for enrollment, which I think is awesome! What about during the summer????? We still have to have someone care for our children during the summer and THAT is not free. For the MAJORITY of us, IT HAS NOTHING TO DO ABOUT THE MONEY ISSUE!!!!

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formerfarmer 7 years, 3 months ago

Why is Minder refering to Douglas County for stats. Funding for most programs in Kansas are provided to the local school district. Eudora is providing all day kindergarten, Lawrence & Baldwin are not. It is a local funding issue, not a county issue. If funding is provided to the county, naturally most of it will go to the Lawrence School District, since they are the largest in the county.

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StirrrThePot 7 years, 3 months ago

How about if they quit doing the 1:00 dismissal on Wednesdays (if they still do that)? Still trying to figure out what good comes out of letting the kids go every Wednesday afternoon...

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conservative 7 years, 3 months ago

Stirr, yep they still do that stupid early dismissal thing. The teachers union says its for collaborative time. However based on empty parking lots, and increased revenue on wednesday afternoon at places like Henry T's I don't think all are using it the way it should be.

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Confrontation 7 years, 3 months ago

scenebooster: You forget that most pro-lifers don't care about what happens after a baby is born.

Can someone explain to me why this stupid town wants to spend $30 million on a library and not $1 million on all-day K? The benefits of a full-day of school is far greater than helping a few stay-at-homes entertain their children. I know, I know, it's not just the stay-at-homes that use it. We also have to have a place for the homeless to hang out and stare at women and children.

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lily 7 years, 3 months ago

I know of several people who have come here for their special needs children. That is the only reason they relocated. If we don't do all day k why don't they consider the option of "day care" at the schools for an additional fee? Some of the private schools in town do it. Kids can go to morning care, afternoon K and after school care. It's an additional charge but if you have to pay for care anyway why not keep the kids in one place and not have to drop off and pick up 3 times a day. Sure would have made things easier for me. I know space may be an issue in some schools but maybe not others.

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perkins 7 years, 3 months ago

Government already gets kids from 1st grade thru 12th. Half a day is long enough for kindergarten.

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Good2go 7 years, 3 months ago

Why do we need all day kindergarten, is there a problem with the kid going into first grade in Lawrence? On the other hand, is it that a lobbyist group out of Topeka said we are not good people unless we have all day kindergarten? We are in the urban group due to the fact we have (rpsm< 150). The counties we are being compared to are Johnson, Sedgwick, Shawnee and Wyandotte. Economically we are not in that league. Nor do we have the welfare problem they do. I think we are trying to fix a problem we don't really have.

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Kelly Anderson 7 years, 3 months ago

I just find it ironic that the school district has an ALL DAY preschool at East Heights and 1/2 day kindergarten.

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