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Elk Grove Unified to begin a new grade next year

11.22.2011 | Elk Grove Citizen | Cameron Macdonald

The state aims to save $700 million by delaying kindergarten for millions of children, starting in July.

This change applies to children who will turn 5 between Nov. 2 and Dec. 2, 2012

As for those who would be too young for kindergarten and too old for preschool, there is the new grade of “Transitional Kindergarten” (TK). TK students will then move on to regular kindergarten classes in the following year.

Elementary schools within the Elk Grove Unified School District plan to have TK classes next year. The catch is that the state lacks extra funding and curriculum guidelines for the new grade.

“Our illustrious state passed a bill with no funding,” Trustee Chet Madison said during the Elk Grove school board’s Nov. 15 meeting.

The district’s associate superintendent of PreK-6 Education, Donna Cherry and PreK-6 Director Bob Roe explained the new grade to the board.

The state plans to gradually expand the age eligibility for TK students from Nov. 2 to Sept. 2 over a three-year period.

Roe said that the TK requirement would affect nearly 300 students of the 4,463 currently enrolled kindergarteners. He added that staff will have to figure out where to place the TK classes in the district’s 39 elementary schools.

Roe said the TK classes will be more like the district’s preschool program where socialization among the classmates will be emphasized. The classes will also have the same amount of class time as the kindergarten classes.

Roe explained that district staff has been working with kindergarten teachers to develop Elk Grove Unified’s TK academic standards.

“We need to be careful we’re not copying the kindergarten curriculum,” Trustee Pollyanna Cooper-LeVangie told staff.

She later said, “I’m very excited about it, it has potential to be very helpful.”

A few trustees raised concerns about the TK program’s funding and age requirements.

Trustee Al Rowlett suggested the staff create a way to fund the development of the district’s TK rubric.

“We can say, ‘Here it is, and we did it ourselves,’” he said.

Trustee Jeanette Amavisca described the state’s money-saving intention behind creating the TK grade to be “kicking the can down the road.”

She also mentioned she was born in November along with many of her children and great-grandchildren while she criticized the policy of not allowing November babies to enter kindergarten.

Trustee William Lugg mentioned his concern about how the TK grade would ultimately lead to 19-year-old adults enrolled in high school.

“We don’t make the laws so we have to do what we have to do,” he said. “I hope we can find places for them.”

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