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Board Says No to Long Kindergarten

Five-day-a-week, full-day kindergarten is off the table for next year and the year after, much to the relief of dozens of parents who came to speak out at last night’s Board of Education meeting.   Superintendent Elliott Landon’s plan to expand the current three full-day, /two half-day kindergarten to a five full day program was voted down, 6-1, for the 2010-11 year and 4-3 for the 2011-12 year.

Currently, kindergarten Tuesday through Thursday are full days and Monday and Friday are half days.

During last night’s lengthy and sometimes confusing discussion, the board put forth six motions representing a variety of scenarios – if, when and how an expanded kindergarten could roll out.

Prior to the meeting, Landon suggested several proposals on how to implement five full day kindergarten including: starting five full days in 2010 for all children; starting it in 2010 and allowing families to opt out of Monday and Friday afternoons; delaying implementation until next year.  Members of the board added their own options, including a plan by Board Member Elaine Whitney which would retain the current kindergarten schedule, but would make the afternoon class sizes smaller.

The board heard from dozens of members of the public.  A handful of them spoke in favor of the five full day plan, saying the kids themselves like the longer days; it is easier for families with two working parents, and children like routine and consistency. Several parents were opposed to any “opt out” options saying  it could create separate groups of students in the schools.  The majority of the speakers were opposed to five full days because they felt that kids need time to play and have unstructured time outside of the classroom for social, emotional and intellectual growth.  Many parents praised Whitney for her “out of the box thinking.”

After more than two hours of discussion, the board voted not to change the current kindergarten schedule . They said that they will revisit the idea of improving the current kindergarten program, as in the case of Whitney's proposal,  in August during their goal-setting phase .

See related story: Parent Opposes Expanding Kingergarten