School districts transitioning to all-day kindergarten

Amount of time youngest students spend in classroom doubling as Clark County moves toward all-day schedule

By Susan Parrish, Columbian Education Reporter

Published:

 

Did You Know?

• State-funded all-day kindergarten is part of the state's constitutionally protected definition of "basic education."

• Legislation passed in 2009 requires full implementation of state-funded all-day kindergarten for all students in Washington by the 2017-2018 school year. However, no funding was attached initially.

• Statewide, schools with the highest rates of poverty are to be funded first, and once a school receives funding, the school is eligible in future school years, regardless of changes in the school's percentage of students eligible for free and reduced-price lunch.

Source: Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction at <a href="http://www.k12.wa.us">www.k12.wa.us</a>

Kindergarten: How To Register

&#8226; Children entering kindergarten in the 2015-2016 school year must be 5 years old on or before Aug. 31.

&#8226; To register a child for kindergarten, parents or guardians should bring the child's birth certificate and complete immunization record to their neighborhood elementary school.

Did You Know?

• State-funded all-day kindergarten is part of the state’s constitutionally protected definition of “basic education.”

• Legislation passed in 2009 requires full implementation of state-funded all-day kindergarten for all students in Washington by the 2017-2018 school year. However, no funding was attached initially.

• Statewide, schools with the highest rates of poverty are to be funded first, and once a school receives funding, the school is eligible in future school years, regardless of changes in the school’s percentage of students eligible for free and reduced-price lunch.

Source: Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction at www.k12.wa.us

Kindergarten: How To Register

• Children entering kindergarten in the 2015-2016 school year must be 5 years old on or before Aug. 31.

• To register a child for kindergarten, parents or guardians should bring the child’s birth certificate and complete immunization record to their neighborhood elementary school.

It’s been a long time since kindergarten was synonymous with nap time, graham crackers, stories and playtime. Today’s kindergarten classrooms are more academic than ever.

The kindergarten school day has been lengthening, too. State law mandates that voluntary, all-day kindergarten be implemented in all schools by the 2017-2018 school year. Slowly, school districts across the state are transitioning from half-day to all-day kindergarten programs. At this point, the state is funding only all-day programs that serve students with the highest free- or reduced-price lunch rates.

How does all-day kindergarten compare to half-day kindergarten?

“There’s no nap, even with our longer day. They really don’t need it,” said Jodie Brusseau, kindergarten teacher at Evergreen Public Schools’ Riverview Elementary. “It’s very academic, and there’s a lot of learning happening, but we do still strive to keep the magic of kindergarten alive with arts and crafts, games and activities to develop their fine motor skills through holding a pencil or cutting with scissors.”

She’s been teaching kindergarten for 17 years and has experienced both the half-day and new all-day kindergarten model. Her students start at 9:15 a.m. and leave at 3:35 p.m., along with the other elementary students. It takes two or three weeks for the kids to adjust to the long day, she said.

“We try to structure our day and do things that are more play-based in the afternoon: art, free choice time, PE, music and library to break up the day. We really try to be intentional about how we structure their day, especially at the beginning of the school year.”

Brusseau’s students have three recesses: morning, lunch and afternoon, and they eat lunch at school. They get PE and music classes twice a week instead of once.

Students are reaching benchmarks sooner, Brusseau said. Kindergartners who attended half-day kindergarten had the equivalent of a half-year of school.

“In half day, we worked on alphabet knowledge and letter knowledge and some beginning reading skills,” she said. “But with full day, kids are able to take those pieces together and become readers and concentrate on reading comprehension.”

From January on, kindergartners are doing activities they couldn’t achieve in the half-day model. They are writing stories with a beginning, middle and end, are doing informational writing and are going much farther in math. By the end of the school year, an all-day kindergartner can do what a first-grader would have done several months into first grade, had the child attended half-day kindergarten, she said.

The district worked with kindergarten teachers in terms of what to expect from an all-day program and how to structure the day so the kids could handle it. The next school year, the district worked with first-grade teachers so they’d be better prepared for the students who had attended all-day kindergarten rather than half-day, said Scott Munro, executive director of elementary education.

“What we saw right out of the gate in that first year was not only increased stamina for our students, but higher degrees of reading and math achievement,” said Munro. “There’s no question in our minds that moving to all-day, every day kindergarten was absolutely the right thing to do. We’re placing a higher emphasis than ever on early learning.”

More teachers, rooms

In the half-day kindergarten model, one teacher could teach both a morning and an afternoon class in the same classroom. Offering all-day kindergarten at all schools requires doubling the number of kindergarten classrooms, teachers, desks and supplies.

Evergreen Public Schools schools hired more than 40 additional teaching staff at its elementary schools.

The district found space to double the number of kindergarten classrooms by consolidating spaces and reclaiming classroom space. Only four of its elementary schools did not have space to add kindergarten classes, so portables were brought in to those schools, said Gail Spolar, district spokeswoman.

Next fall, seven of the 10 Clark County school districts will offer free, all-day kindergarten: Camas, Evergreen, Green Mountain, La Center, Vancouver, Washougal and Woodland. Three districts — Battle Ground, Hockinson and Ridgefield — will offer both half-day and all-day kindergarten.

Clark County and All-Day Kindergarten

Here’s a list of Clark County school districts and where they stand on full-day kindergarten.

Battle Ground

All primary schools in Battle Ground Public Schools offer free, half-day kindergarten. But that’s the older model that is being phased out by the state’s mandate.

Next school year, five of the district’s primary schools will offer one class of tuition-based all-day kindergarten. Only Yacolt Primary and Maple Grove will not have the option of all-day kindergarten. Tuition is $2,900 for the year, spread over 10 payments of $290 per month.

Because the district’s poverty numbers aren’t high enough, the state does not pay for all-day kindergarten at this point. The tuition-based model pays the other half of the teacher’s salary.

Several large housing developments being constructed within the district’s boundaries are predicted to spur the need for significantly more classrooms in the coming months.

“We’re stretched to the seams,” said Jill Smith, an executive director in the district’s teaching and learning department. “We don’t have the physical classroom space to add kindergarten classrooms. If the state comes through with the state-funded all-day kindergarten, we’ll determine what we can do. We will have to find the space, one school at a time, to be able to fully implement it.”

District office: 360-885-5300.

Web: www.battlegroundps.org

Camas

Beginning in the 2015-2016 school year, Camas School District will offer tuition-free all-day kindergarten at all six of its elementary schools. The county’s most affluent school district does not receive state funding for all-day kindergarten.

Camas will use $658,000 in district reserves to implement all-day kindergarten throughout the district. That money includes additional staff, building adjustments, furniture and instructional materials.

District office: 360-335-3000.

Kindergarten registration: www.camas.wednet.edu/registration

Web: www.camas.wednet.edu

Evergreen

Five years ago, Evergreen Public Schools was the first Clark County district to implement free all-day kindergarten in all 21 of its schools before it was mandated.

District office: 360-604-4000.

Web: http://www.evergreenps.org

Green Mountain

Green Mountain School District began offering tuition-free all-day kindergarten in 2013-2014 and has one kindergarten class. The rural, one-school district does not receive state funding to provide all-day kindergarten.

“It will certainly be wonderful to have our state Legislature provide the full-day funding for our kindergarten students to begin their school career being acknowledged as full-time students,” said Superintendent Joe Jones.

District office: 360-225-7366.

Web: www.greenmountainschool.us

Hockinson

Hockinson School District offers a choice of tuition-free all-day or half-day kindergarten. This year, due to larger enrollment, the district added a fifth section of all-day kindergarten. The district has one section of half-day kindergarten. Next school year, the district is projecting four sections of all-day and one section of half-day kindergarten, said Sandra Yager, superintendent.

District office: 360-448-6400.

Web: www.hock.k12.wa.us

La Center

La Center School District has five tuition-free all-day kindergarten classes at La Center Elementary. The kindergarten program is four full days, Monday through Thursday, said

Laurie Kansanback, district spokeswoman.

District office: 360-263-2131.

Web: www.lacenterschools.org

Ridgefield

Ridgefield School District has one tuition-free all-day kindergarten class based on academic needs of students districtwide. It is paid for by levy support because the district’s poverty rate is too low to receive any financial support from the state to pay for all-day kindergarten.

In addition, Ridgefield has seven half-time kindergarten classes that meet all day every other day at its two elementary schools.

But an uptick in housing construction within the district’s boundaries will mean more kindergarten classes in the near future. Ridgefield likely will have to add another two sections — or classes of kindergartners — by the 2016-2017 school year, said Patricia Boles, assistant superintendent.

“We are growing,” said Boles. “We’re to our limits right now. We’ll need more classroom space.”

District office: 360-619-1300.

Web: http://www.ridge.k12.wa.us

Vancouver

Vancouver Public Schools, Clark County’s second-largest district, began implementing all-day tuition-free kindergarten in all of its 21 elementary schools in the 2013-2014 school year.

“When we realized so many of our Title I schools could qualify for full-day kindergarten, the district decided to implement free all-day kindergarten,” said Marianne Thompson, executive director, elementary education.

Staff inventoried how many classrooms and teachers and what furniture and curriculum would be needed and where they would put additional classes. Schools were creative in finding additional classroom space. Support staff and specialists were moved from classrooms into smaller spaces. Only two elementary schools, Eleanor Roosevelt and Sara J. Anderson, required construction to add classroom space. Those additions were completed last fall.

Assessments showed that students enrolled in all-day kindergarten made positive growth in language development, literacy development and math, Thompson said.

District office: 360-313-1000.

Web: www.vansd.org

Washougal

Beginning last fall, Washougal School District began offering tuition-free all-day kindergarten at all three of its elementary schools, thanks to voters approval of a maintenance and operations levy in February 2014. Part of the levy money was devoted to providing all-day kindergarten districtwide.

District office: 360-954-3000.

Web: www.washougal.k12.wa.us

Woodland

The Woodland School District began offering free all-day kindergarten to all students at both of its elementary schools, Yale Elementary and Woodland Primary, in the 2013-2014 school year. Currently it has six kindergarten classrooms.

“We have never charged any fees to provide full-day kindergarten,” said Asha Riley, the district’s assistant superintendent for teaching and learning. “It is an investment worth making in our kids and we are excited to see the difference it has made in our first cohort of students who are now in first grade.”

District office: 360-841-2700.

Web: www.woodlandschools.org