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VUSD readies transitional kindergartens

10.26.2011 | Visalia Times-Delta | Victor Garcia

The Visalia Unified School District is preparing to move to a transitional kindergarten model as required by the Kindergarten Readiness Act law passed in 2010.

The VUSD board of education heard a presentation on the Kindergarten Readiness Act at its meeting on Tuesday by Area Superintendent Doug Bartsch.

Under the law, VUSD, and every other district in the state, is required to move back the cutoff date for students eligible to enter kindergarten. Currently, that date is December 2. Starting in the 2012-13 school year, a student would have to be five-years-old by November 1 of that year to enter kindergarten. That cutoff date moves back during the next two years:

  • 2013-14: October 1
  • 2014-15: September 2

School districts will have to provide an optional transitional kindergarten class for students who won’t be able to attend regular kindergarten under this new model, meaning they would essentially attend school for two years before moving on to first-grade.

By 2014-15, VUSD will have 575 students eligible for transitional kindergarten.

Board President Bill Fulmer asked if the district would see a drop in attendance because of the new kindergarten policy.

Bartsch said if all the eligible students enroll in transitional kindergarten, the attendance should stay the same.

Board member Rodney Elder asked for clarification on what transitional kindergarten is.

Bartsch said the legislature pushed back the date to start kindergarten, but made it so those students who won’t be able to attend by the cutoff date can still go to school.

The challenge, Bartsch said, is developing a new curriculum for traditional kindergarten students and locations for classes.

Principals and kindergarten teachers are analyzing whether there should be cluster classes at a few school sites, where students would attend a school outside their attendance area, or whether there would be combined Pre-kindergarten/kindergarten classes.

The ultimate goal, Bartsch said, is to find the best way to serve all students under the new system.

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