Steamboat looks to Hayden, South Routt as models for all-day kindergarten

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Kindergarten teacher Missy Beirne gives a lesson on the letter "A" at the North Routt Community Charter School on Thursday morning.

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Kindergarteners Garrett Zinn, right, and Jack Tracy listen to a lesson about the letter "A" at the North Routt Community Charter School on Thursday morning.

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Kindergarteners Garrett Zinn, right, and Jack Tracy listen to a lesson about the letter "A" at the North Routt Community Charter School on Thursday morning.

— Steamboat Springs School Board President Denise Connelly addressed a former School Board six years ago in the hopes of getting a full-time, district-wide kindergarten program implemented in Steamboat.

"I was part of a group of parents that asked if getting it passed was possible," said Connelly, who noted she was told funding concerns prevented moving the program forward.

"Kids are so capable of picking things up at such an early age," she said. "A lot of our kids are going to preschool, and they are in the habit of being in a classroom environment. Kindergarten used to be a time of adjustment of leaving home, and we are so far from that now, and we need to take advantage of it and make it an educational experience."

On Monday, Connelly will be sitting on the opposite side of the table as the School Board looks to resurrect the call for an all-day kindergarten.

"I hope to get the ball rolling on this," Connelly said. "This is some

thing the community has asked for, and we are trying to find a way to get it done."

It is not mandatory to attend or provide kindergarten in Colorado, but there currently are 118 students in half-day kindergarten programs at Soda Creek and Strawberry Park elementary schools.

As Steamboat Springs School District officials debate how to expand half-day kindergarten to full-day, neighboring district superintendents Mike Luppes in Hayden and Kelly Reed in South Routt tout their districts' full-day kindergarten programs.

"We've had full-time kindergarten for years," said Reed, who noted the program is free to all parents. "It is something that has always been a priority to the parents of South Routt. We have absorbed the cost, because we felt they are worth the benefits to students."

In Hayden, Luppes said last year's expansion to a full-day kindergarten program was "absolutely wonderful."

"Obviously, there's the additional seat time for students in schools," said Luppes, who noted the program costs parents $7 per school day.

"There is more learning experiences, and reading readiness levels for all students in kindergarten was greatly increased," he said. "It makes for good, healthy, well-rounded kids and students."

Luppes noted that, for $7 per day, the full-time kindergarten program is a deal for working families, as opposed to day care options that can cost up to $50 per day.

"Our goal is to work really hard so that any parent that wants their student in full-day (kindergarten), there is a way to do it," he said.

In Steamboat, director of finance and acting superintendent Dale Mellor said the district would need almost $200,000 more a year, just for personnel costs, to expand kindergarten to a full-day program.

"That doesn't include the additional supplies, desks and computers," he previously told board members.

Board member John DeVincentis said at the board's previous meeting that space has been reserved for additional kindergarten rooms in the new Soda Creek building, which is expected to open sometime during the 2008-09 school year. He proposed splitting the extra cost of implementing full-day kindergarten among participating families.

"That comes out to be about $1,600 a year for full-day kindergarten, which is a bargain for working families compared to full-day day care," said DeVincentis, who noted many families pay up to $55 per day for day care. "Over the course of the year, that's one-tenth what they would have paid."

Connelly said an additional option may be asking the Education Fund Board for funds from the city's half-cent sales tax to expand kindergarten to full day, but an exploratory committee must be commissioned first.

"We also need a feasibility study to see what are the issues we need to look at," she said. "I'm excited about the potential and what it will do for our kids in early education."

Comments

SteamboatJoe 6 years, 11 months ago

Feasibility study? That sounds like a long drawn out process. Hopefully it isn't.

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BigOil 6 years, 11 months ago

"We also need a feasibility study to see what are the issues we need to look at,"

Study, study, study. Talk, talk talk, consult consult consult, wring hands, wring hands, wring hands

The board need to realize that they aren't in the position of running the district, the superintendent is. If they would let the superintendents do their job and stay out of construction meetings and other aspects of the superintendent's job maybe they'd have time to focus on what's best of our kids. The community has been expecting our district to make full-day kindergarten a reality for years. And now we need a feasibility study? It's funny how General John and his minions can find $300k to get rid of a beloved superintendent but can't find the funds to improve the kindergarten program.

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dimwitiguess 6 years, 11 months ago

Waaahh, waahhh, waaahhhh, StmbtJoe and Pigoil, everytime this board does something the other boards refused to consider, you start whining. Joe you had a chance when you were on the board to do full-day kinder and didn't. This board will do it, and I hope by next year. When you headed the EFB Joe you stopped anything with good intentions just because it wasn't your idea or the former super's. This board will soon get a super who works for the community and parents and not for a former board.

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SteamboatJoe 6 years, 11 months ago

I headed the EFB? WOW! dimwitiguess speaks for itself

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80488mom 6 years, 11 months ago

I've had a child in full day kindergarten and one who went to 1/2 day kindergarten. I hate to say it but it really doesn't make any difference. What makes the greatest difference is parental involvement. A child with a parent fully vested in their education will be successful. You can't expect the school or the teachers to bear all the responsibility for educating your children. That's a parent's duty.

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