Transitional kindergarten’s fate in California is still up in the air
02.03.2012 | Sacramento Bee | Diana Lambert
Sherry Tam doesn’t know where her son will go to school next year.
The Elk Grove boy, who is 15 days too young to start kindergarten in August, was signed up for transitional kindergarten, a new grade level slated to start in the next school year.
But Gov. Jerry Brown pulled the multicolored classroom carpet out from under thousands of California families when he proposed permanently eliminating funding for the program in next year’s state budget.
The move would save the state $223.7 million in 2012-13 and $672
million each year after the new age requirements are fully implemented
Transitional kindergarten was meant to accommodate thousands of California
children being pushed out of kindergarten by a new state law that
requires new students to be age 5 by Nov. 1, instead of Dec. 2. It would
give kids an extra year of kindergarten to better prepare them for
“I’m really disappointed,” Tam said. Her son “will
probably have to stay with his grandparents. I don’t know how many other
parents would have that option.”
Parents such as Tam are unsure what to do. Should they cross their fingers and hope the Legislature decides to fund the program or start looking for a preschool or day care for their children?
“People are understandably anxious,” said Sen. Joe Simitian, D-Palo Alto,
author of the law that created transitional kindergarten. “I reassure
them it (cutting transitional kindergarten) is only a proposal. That is
all it is.”
A proposed trailer bill, meant to offer details about
the governor’s proposal, was released Wednesday. It would allow schools
to enroll 4-year-olds in kindergarten classes if the child turns 5
during the school year and meets all district requirements, similar to
waivers that were in place for years.
H.D. Palmer, Finance Department spokesman, said the state would continue to pay for students waived into kindergarten.
doesn’t expect legislators to agree with cutting transitional
kindergarten, and he recommends that school districts continue to plan
for the new grade level.
A number of school districts, however,
indicated to Finance Department officials that they couldn’t afford to
put transitional kindergarten programs in place next year.
Sacramento-area districts say they are moving ahead with transitional
kindergarten planning, although they also are looking for alternatives
in case the program is eliminated. Some districts have spent the last
year developing curriculum and staffing.
“Elk Grove is planning on moving forward as if the funding is going to be there,” said Bob Roe, director of elementary education for the district. He said Elk Grove is planning 13 transitional kindergarten classes.
districts are considering expanding existing pre-K programs to
accommodate students if transitional kindergarten is eliminated.
Officials at both Twin Rivers Unified and San Juan Unified say they may
start their half-year programs a month or two earlier in order to
accommodate the impacted students.
Unified – the only local district already offering transitional
kindergarten – will continue the five classes it began in 2010 but won’t
expand next school year as originally planned, said district
Superintendent Jonathan Raymond.
program is being well received by our parents,” Raymond said. “We think
it’s a no-brainer. I personally think it’s the most innovative thing California has done in the last 10 years.”
superintendent is hopeful that legislators will support the new grade
level. “I think it’s going to happen, and it’s coming quickly,” he said.
“We’ve got to have something for these children and their families. It
makes good sense to move forward.”
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