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School Year Begins with Transitional Kindergarten

08.16.2012 | Carmichael Patch | Victor Calderon

Thursday was the first day of the 2012-13 school year in the San Juan Unified School District and there’s a new program to help the youngest students prepare for school.

The district is offering transitional kindergarten, a precursor to regular kindergarten. The transitional program is the first year of a two-year kindergarten program and educators and parents say it gives students extra help for learning.

State law now requires districts to offer transitional kindergarten. San Juan Unified offers it at five schools—Thomas Kelly Elementary School in Carmichael, Citrus Heights Elementary School, Twin Lakes Elementary School in Orangevale and the Thomas Edison Language Institute and Cottage Montessori Education in Sacramento.

Kelly Elementary began its first day of transitional kindergarten on Thursday with more than 30 students. The school will serve as a model for others in Northern California after the school received an Early Intervention for School Success grant focusing on intensive support and professional development for transitional kindergarten through 2nd grade, said Kelly principal Melissa Bassanelli.

“Our kids are getting the best of the best,” said Kenya Runyan, whose son Makai, 4, is in the program. “My son was excited for his first day and I cried.”

Enrollment at Kelly is up to 405 students this year from 324 students in 2011, Bassanelli said, in part because of both the transitional kindergarten program and also the school’s developing International Baccalaureate status.

“The transitional kindergarten program will build foundation skills for students,” she said.

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