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San Francisco families pounce on pre-K decision

02.14.2012 | San Francisco Examiner | Amy Crawford

Parents who had planned to enroll their children in transitional
kindergarten turned out at a meeting of the school board Tuesday night
to protest the district’s decision to cancel the program for kids whose
fifth birthdays fall after a new school entrance cutoff date.

“It’s very disheartening; it’s very frustrating,” said James Taylor, the father of a 4-year-old.
The
San Francisco Unified School District’s decision, announced two days
before the deadline for kindergarten admissions applications, was
prompted by Gov. Jerry Brown’s 2012-13 budget proposal, which eliminates
funding for the program.

A 2010 state law gradually increases
the age at which children become eligible for kindergarten, moving
eligible birthdays from Dec. 2 in 2011 to Sept. 1 by 2014. It also
requires districts to offer an optional year of transitional
kindergarten to children whose birthdays fall between the old and new
dates.

It is unclear whether the provision will be enforced if
the governor does not provide funding. However, legislators have
suggested the district’s decision was illegal.

“It’s the law, and
the Legislature passed that law, and I think we certainly expect our
school districts to be implementing it,” Assemblywoman Susan Bonilla,
D-Contra Costa, said during a recent budget committee hearing.

Julia
Gray, the mother of a 4-year-old who would have been in transitional
kindergarten this fall, asked the school board to grant waivers to allow
children such as hers to enter regular kindergarten.

“If she had been born a few days earlier, she would be in kindergarten this fall,” Gray said.

acrawford@sfexaminer.com

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