All-day K group starts planning

Superintendent Smyser hopes for decision by March



Kindergarten students, from right, Casey Buchanan, Charlotte Wilson and Kai Franken sing a song with kindergarten teacher Nancy Porter on Monday at Strawberry Park Elementary School.

— JoAnne Hilton-Gabeler, curriculum and instruction director for the Steamboat Springs School District, said district stakeholders have embarked on one of the most important steps in creating an all-day kindergarten program - starting a dialogue.

Some of those stakeholders - such as administrators, teachers, support staff, parents and other members of the community - met for the first time Nov. 2 for an all-day kindergarten committee meeting.

"We discussed all aspects, all the concerns, all the issues and all the things they wanted to make sure were included if we had all-day kindergarten," she said. "We had a really productive discussion, and they gave me lots of things to consider before going forward, and some historical pieces - things that have not gone well in the past or things that have gone overlooked in the past."

Strawberry Park Elementary School Principal Brenda Barr said about 20 people attended the meeting and discussed how the district can physically accommodate all-day kindergarten and how to fund it.

"It's an exciting opportunity for the community to get involved," Barr said. "There are a lot of questions to be answered, but we are doing our due diligence, and that's something we need to do."

It is not mandatory to attend or provide kindergarten in Colorado. The Steamboat Springs School District offers half-day kindergarten classes that begin in the morning and afternoon. There are 118 students in half-day kindergarten programs at Soda Creek and Strawberry Park elementary schools.

Hilton-Gabeler said the committee discussed whether to limit the number of children who could participate because of facility capacities, funding options and whether to retain half-day kindergarten as an option for parents.

"I thought everyone would just want full-day kindergarten, and I didn't think anyone would want half-day to remain," said Hilton-Gabeler, who noted she has created seven options for implementing the program.

"The different options will be based on what the district can afford at the time," she said. "They will see the seven options and the price tags for each one of them so that they have some idea of what kind of program - and how expensive of a program - they are looking for."

Interim superintendent Sandra Smyser told the School Board on Monday night that the district is not prepared to ask the Education Fund Board for money to support all-day kindergarten until the options are discussed.

"We are still reviewing the options," she said "We just haven't gotten there yet."

Smyser is set to address the Fund Board in December to present districtwide funding priorities that could be funded by the city's half-cent sales tax for education.

Hilton-Gabeler said regardless of what the committee decides is the best all-day kindergarten option, it's up to the School Board to implement a plan.

"The board makes the decisions, but (the committee) will give their recommendations on what is the most workable and the least workable," she said, adding that she hopes the committee will meet again before Thanksgiving. "I won't be telling the board a recommendation, but I'll be presenting the pros and cons of each option when it comes time for them to make a decision."

Smyser has previously stated she would like to have an implementation decision by March. Hilton-Gabeler stressed that the district needs to know whether the new Soda Creek will be open in August to accommodate kindergartners before any decisions are finalized.

"Everybody says the school will be ready, but if it is not, and they don't move into the facility until October or November, there will be no place to put them," she said. "You never know, and if we have a full capacity of kindergartners ready to start, and their parents haven't made alternate plans, then you are putting parents in a tight spot."

- To reach Mike McCollum, call 871-4208

or e-mail


fishy 9 years, 5 months ago

You definitely need to keep the half-day option because some of us don't want or need all-day kindergarten. Maybe you should just call it what it is: after-school day care. Half a day is enough time for the 'school' part for five and six-year-olds.


Carrie Requist 9 years, 5 months ago

You don't have to send your children to Kindergarten. Compulsory attendance in school is only required from ages 7-16 as per the Colorado Revised Statues 22-33-104


corduroy 9 years, 5 months ago

man this is messed up /went to all day Kindergarten in NYS starting when I was 4 (after full day preschool for a year) /mom was a stay at home, I didn't NEED to, but it was a good experience For those of you against full day K, look into how other schools in the nation do it. People coddle their children WAY too much these days.


Carrie Requist 9 years, 5 months ago

Google search on Full Day Kindergarten Research nets a lot of data. I liked this report:

that was prepared in 2004 for the Indiana Association of Public School Superintendents becuase it summarizes national data about Full Day Kindergarten. Here is the executive summary of the report in reference to national findings in research studies:

"On the issue of attendance, findings are inconclusive. The studies involving academic achievement, grade retention, special education referrals, and social and behavioral effects generally support the effectiveness of full day over half day programs. Disadvantaged students in full day kindergarten were also found to experience greater academic benefits than students in half day programs, although the magnitude of these greater benefits is again inconclusive. The national research suggests that there are no negative outcomes commonly associated with full day kindergarten."

All the data is in the paper, but most research on full day vs half day K (around the nation) shows slight increases in student academic performance as well as behavioral and social skills in later grades for those students that attended full day K vs,. those that attended half day K and none of the studies found increases in any area for the half day K kids.

What I find interesting is that full day K is seen as a current trend. When I was in K (in the early 70s) everyone went to full day K even though there were a lot more stay at home moms then.


letomayo 9 years, 5 months ago

full day "kindy garden" is not a new idea. I'm glad our district is looking at it now. soda and straw will be the last elementary schools to have all-day kindy in Routt Co.. If some parents choose have day, that is fine with me. I only want to make sure my child gets a good start. He's in day care all day. why not fullday kindy? I'll thank the school board if they make it go next year. I hope.


mom 9 years, 5 months ago

I am sure we can all find pros and cons for full day and half day. Why is the push for next school year instead of the following year? It just seems too rushed. I understand the idea of full day is nothing new and the idea of full day in Steamboat is nothing new. It seems like more time is needed especially now with construction. Seems like more time would make more sense... for creating a new program within the district as well as definite completion of additional classrooms, financing, staffing, etc. Construction looks good, but do we know what will be 100% completed by next school year (giving room for weather and the possibility of unforeseen complications).


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