Board Restructures Kindergarten

11.09.2011 | Patch | Miriam Finder

The recent state-mandated changes to the age at which kids start kindergarten pushed Burlingame Elementary School District leaders on Tuesday to overhaul their kindergarten program beginning next year.

At their Oct. 25 meeting, the board approved plans implementing the transitional kindergarten program required by State Senate Bill 1381. That bill requires children turn 5 before Nov. 1 to enter kindergarten for the 2012-2013 school year, Oct. 1 for the 2013-2014 school year and eventually Sept. 1 for the 2014-2015 school year.

Board members took the opportunity to discuss kindergarten restructuring and address issues brought up by teachers and principals, such as class size, instructional time and early and late bird options.

The board members and school principals decided to cut class sizes to 22.44 students per teacher, make kindergarten a full day and eliminate early-bird and late-bird programs.

“I had the opportunity to meet with all the kindergarten teachers,” said Washington Principal Julie Eastman in October. “Right off the bat they were saying they wanted to see class sizes reduced, extended days and no early-bird late-bird so we can finally get some lessons taught all the way through.”

With a full-day program, teachers can take their time with lessons; smaller class sizes allow them more time with each student, supporters said.

According to staff documents, “staff has used to opportunity to restructure the way our current kindergarten operates in order to have a continuum of readiness skills and academics that best serve the needs of our kindergarten students.”

Starting with the 2012-2013 school year, Burlingame students turning 5 between Nov. 1 and Dec. 2 must wait a year before entering kindergarten and instead have the option of participating in the Burlingame Elementary School District’s first-ever half-day transitional kindergarten class.

“We want to provide our young fives the gift of time,” said Asst. Superintendent Jud Kempson at an Oct. 25 meeting. “We want to provide students who may not have had the opportunity of preschool a year to become school ready.”

While only children with birthdays between Nov. 1 and Dec. 2 will have only the option of transitional kindergarten in the 2012-2013 school year, children with birthdays beginning Sept. 1 through Oct. 31 can opt into the transitional program that year as well.

In the coming months, outreach to parents, curriculum, scheduling and capacity issues at the school will be addressed, especially as enrollment numbers come in.

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