Board debates all-day K

Committee studying issue says it needs further direction

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— A committee studying the prospect of all-day kindergarten in the Steamboat Springs School District is at a standstill until provided with further direction from the School Board, an official told board members Monday night.

The committee, composed of administrators, teachers, parents and community members, has been meeting for the past three months to discuss how best to implement such a program in Steamboat Springs. At Monday's School Board study session, JoAnne Hilton-Gabeler, the school district's director of curriculum and instruction, said the committee needs direction.

"They don't know the point in why to do this," Hilton-Gabeler said. "Is this about child care issues, providing resources for lower-performing students or higher-performing students? They need to know why they are doing this so they can finish crafting the program."

Providing kindergarten is optional for Colorado public schools. The state provides funding only for half-day kindergarten programs, which the district offers at Soda Creek and Strawberry Park elementary schools. There are 118 kindergartners enrolled in the program.

Board member Laura Anderson said the need for all-day kindergarten is a community-driven request.

"It's clear that the community feels like it's time for all-day kindergarten," she said.

Board member Denise Connelly said the issue isn't just a matter of scholastics, but a benefit to the whole community.

"We address some early needs of at-risk kids who could drop out and get into a life of crime," she said.

In discussing the cost of implementing the program, board member John DeVincentis said he hopes all-day kindergarten has a minimal impact on district finances.

"For me, I hope there will be a limited cost to the district because the cost should be tuition based on a sliding scale," he said.

The School Board also discussed Gov. Bill Ritter's P-20 Education Council, which could provide state funding for all-day kindergarten. Superintendent Sandra Smyser noted that as the governor's program is written, districts that fund all-day kindergarten will not be eligible for state funding.

"We may not get (funding) for kindergarten, but we are still eligible for the money, and we can maybe use it for other programs, such as ones for 3- and 4-year-olds," she said.

Soda Creek Principal Judy Harris urged the School Board to pick up the pace in their all-day kindergarten decision-making process so administrators have enough time to plan for the 2008-09 school year. The School Board has previously stated a desire to have an all-day kindergarten decision made by March 1.

"I feel really uneasy about sitting here in the middle of January, and we aren't close to a decision," she said.

Anderson added that she would like board members to be prudent rather than quick.

"I'd rather take time and do it right," she said. "I would not like to open (the program) on Sept. 1 if we don't go about it in a thoughtful manner."

- To reach Mike McCollum, call 871-4208

or e-mail mmccollum@steamboatpilot.com

Comments

corduroy 6 years, 11 months ago

As someone who not only went to full day kindergarten but also full day pre-k, I really think it is beneficial to the child. My mom didn't work, but that didn't mean I was to stay at home with her until 1st grade when I was 5! I learned a lot in prek and started building skills like how to interact with other children, learning about sharing, etc, not just being "babysat"

It wasn't until I was in high school they even had the option of "half day" Kindergarten

By the way I was born and raised in upstate NY, and I'm not sure of how optional Kindergarten is

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jaded 6 years, 11 months ago

justathought, calm down. I know I don't want you helping to raise my children. As for the cost, every parent I have discussed this with is very willing to pay out of pocket for this service. The projected cost previously reported would be in the neighborhood of $1600 per child, still well under the cost of day care. In fact, working parents with kids in half day kindergarten still have to pay almost full price for half day care. This would be a HUGE savings and have no impact on you. Would I like it to be free? Of course. Would I be willing to pay? Absolutely!

And by the way, they aren't babysitters, they are teachers.

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jjkkll 6 years, 11 months ago

I would like to see all day kindergarten. Half day is not really "half day"...it's more like 2.5 hrs. By the time you get the students settled down and into a program for the day, it's time to get ready to pack up and leave. Do the kids really get anything out of half day kindergarten? I think all day kindergarten would be more productive for the child.

South Routt and Hayden have all day kindergarten....why doesn't Steamboat? When I've discussed this with other parents, their comment is..."don't count on it....Steamboat has been "talking" about all day kindergarten for years, but never get anything resolved". I sure hope a decision can be made March 1....but, I'm not holding my breath.

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jjkkll 6 years, 11 months ago

Jaded and Corduroy - Well said!! I completely agree with you. I know parents pay to have their child in all day kindergarten in Hayden. I don't know about South Routt. I have not spoken to one parent that feels it should be free. We all are willing to help offset the cost.

My child is in a pre-k program right now. I pay for this as well. My child is learning so much and enjoys the teachers and friends, learning the structure of a school day, sharing, listening, interacting. I went to all day Kindergarten. My mother didn't work either. The parents I have spoken to aren't looking for babysitters, they are looking for a productive program for their 5-6 year olds. A first step into the world of education. I think it is time for Steamboat Schools to implement this program. The children will benefit tremendously!!

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justathought 6 years, 11 months ago

This whole thing is just a way to get public funds to pay for private baby sitters for parents that work instead of parenting; the ones that want to blame the teachers and administrators because their kids haven't been taught respect, manners or how to behave in public. As soon as they get all day kindergarten they can start working on a pre-kindergarten, then you can make all pre-school part of the school districts responsibility. Keep going, [Denise Connelly said the issue isn't just a matter of scholastics, but a benefit to the whole community."We address some early needs of at-risk kids who could drop out and get into a life of crime," she said.] maybe society should take responsibility for them straight from child birth. Instead of finding more ways for the village to raise these kids, how about finding an incentive for a parent to stay home with them or quit having them. It would sure be better for the child and society if kids were raised by their parents.

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bikegirl 6 years, 11 months ago

just wondering-if we implement all day kindergarten,will parents still have the half day option? not all families want all day-does anyone know?

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momofthree 6 years, 11 months ago

justathought: even if we agree that it would be nice if one parent could stay home and raise his or (more likely) her children, it is not realistic. while some parents choose to work rather than spend all day, every day with their kids, others have to work in order to provide a house, clothing, food, healthcare and all the other necessities of life. still others are single parents, often through no fault of their own. it benefits society overall to take care of all our kids, regardless of what choices their parents make, and research clearly shows that early childhood education and care can make an enormous difference in the lives of those children as they grow into adolescence and adulthood. reducing crime is one thing, but so is having a more educated populace. both, of course, benefit society overall and will help the US stay competitive in an increasingly global market. rather than wish the world were somthing that it isn't, let's put out energy and resources toward making the one we have better for all of us. and, I'm curious--if you have kids, did you personally stay home to raise them?

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letomayo 6 years, 11 months ago

I heard that 1/2 day would still be a choice. I guess that if a family opts for 1/2 day it won't be long until they will want full-day. The school board shouldn't be making the decision, the adminstration should get a program or options to them that they will approve. What has the all-day kinder. committee come up with so far.

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Scott Wedel 6 years, 11 months ago

It is an embarrassment that a school district as wealthy as SB does not have full day kindergarten. The needed money is so insignificant in the overall budget. For instance it is ess than a contract buyout of which there no serious discussion of whether the district could afford to do that.

What is the objective of a full day kindergarten? To give the kids more of what they need. That is to give more help to the at risk kids, provide resources to more advanced kids, provide supervision to kids interacting with kids. Socialization and structure are two major goals of kindergarten.

The time for excuses has long past. Didn't some of these board members campaign on the promise of full day kindergarten? Time to do it. The only way to learn what isn't perfect is to start doing it and then learn how to do it better in the future. It is very hard to see how full day could harm any kid's educational future. Thus, the question is not whether there is any risk in doing it, the only question is whether it will be as good as it should be. So do it and don't be afraid to change it to improve it.

But the days of doing nothing as if that is better than doing something are long past.

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STEMBOATwannabe 6 years, 11 months ago

My children went to full day kindergarten in Illinois. The day was divided so that the "required" curriculum was done in the morning. ( Half-day only had an option of morning) and then with lunch and recess, the afternoon was devoted to enrichment studies and art. They also were able to do some science adventure projects and had a session with the PE teacher. I felt that they had been allowed to see what they would be experiencing in first grade as well as learning skills. First grade was not as much of a shock to them and their friends as it was to the students who opted for half day.

Would I send my children to Full day K again. YES!!!!

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autumnwitch 6 years, 11 months ago

It does end up being mostly cheap, taxpayor supported day-care. Little kids are fried after a full day in 1st grade, it is unreasonable to put them into a full day learning environment at 4-5 years of age. If you check into preschool and pre-k programs, most of the learning goes on in the morning, then there is a nap or rest time then free-play afternoons. When most of us were growing up, we didn't interact much with other kids except those in the neighborhood until we were in half-day kindergarten. We managed to socialize just fine and most of us grew up respecting adults. Amazing how that seems to not be the case these days with kids going to preschool from the moment they wake in the morning until what should be close to bedtime. They are getting most of their parenting from caregivers. I know that we have to have jobs to survive, but if you are going to have them, try to spend more quality time at home teaching them to be repectful individuals not technology experts. Yeah, I know, kind of off the subject but I see it too much these days.

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ColoradoNative 6 years, 11 months ago

I love it when people have kids and then complain how expensive they are.

I have a solution. Don't have kids.

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mominboat 6 years, 11 months ago

With Camp Soda Creek and the addition to Strawberry Park under construction, where will full day kindergarten be held? Both schools are maxed in size, and Strawberry Park has been bursting at the seams with the overflow from Soda Creek. Sounds like the cart before the horse, or literally a decision without a plan. I plead with the school board to consider that the current facilities are not accomodating enough (meaning available classrooms, facilities,teachers, parking, etc) to implement full day kindergarten. Please at least put the plan on hold until the two elementary schools can get under their new roofs and the constructive dust settles. One kindergarten at Strawberry Park is already crammed into a dark small office and the kindergarten kids at Soda creek removed from the other cabins. Also, who is going to teach these kids? Will more aides be hired for the playground? Geez, where are they going to provide lunch at Strawberry Park for kindergarten kids?
I can appreciate the needs of our community, but we do not have the facilities YET. I appeal to the school board to please consider the impact of making decisions without a plan of action regarding this issue. thanks

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