Full-day K

Hayden offers new kindergarten option

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— There isn't one particular project Christine Epp is looking forward to completing or one specific field trip she would like to take.

All the Hayden kindergarten teacher can think about is the extra time she will have with her students now that full-day kindergarten is an option at Hayden Valley Elementary School.

"Oh, definitely," she said when asked whether she was excited. "This has been something we've had on our minds for several years. We just haven't been able to pull it off financially."

Hayden was awarded a grant from the Colorado Preschool Kindergarten Program in June.

For more information about the full-day kindergarten program or to receive an application, call the Hayden School District at 276-4100.

The grant total is equivalent to five full-day kindergarten slots, but Hayden is dividing the grant up to provide 10 half-day slots free of charge. The tuition for the other half-day of kindergarten is $7 per student per day, but parents also can apply for free or reduced rates.

The reduced rate is $3.50 per student per day, Superintendent Mike Luppes said.

Many parents already have filled out paperwork for the kindergarten program, but Luppes wants to make sure parents who are new to the area also are aware of the program.

"We got late notification on this," Luppes said. "It was funding that came through the Legislature this spring. We applied for it prior to the Legislature even approving the funding."

Half-day kindergarten is still available, but administrators and teachers are encouraging parents to choose the full-day kindergarten option. "We are really thinking it's going to show some strong academic results," Luppes said.

Rhonda Sweetser, building administrator at the elementary school, said the response has been positive, and she is hoping for 30 to 32 kindergarten students this fall.

"We sent out a letter with information and a survey," Sweetser said. "We've had an excellent response."

The first day of school is Sept. 5, and full-day kindergartners will go to school from 8:10 a.m. to 3:35 p.m.

Epp and Melany Neton, a former Hayden teacher who has returned after teaching in Craig, will work with a para-professional to keep class sizes small per the grant requirement.

Half-day kindergarten lasts 2.5 hours, which prevented Epp from spending as much time as she would have liked on a number of subjects. With about seven hours of class time, Epp will have more flexibility in her schedule.

"My biggest wish was for all-day kindergarten to have time to expand on what we are doing and fit in more literacy, science and social studies," said Epp, who has been teaching at some level for 32 years. "This will give us a chance to do all the things we need to do, but maybe at a more relaxed pace."

Soroco has all-day kindergarten. Steamboat Springs does not.

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