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Guilderland mulls full-day kindergarten

In the past few years, there has been a move by school districts across the country toward full-day kindergarten programs. Now, in the Guilderland Central School District, discussions have begun to examine the possibility of implementing a full-day program.

Right now, what we've done is pulled together an advisory committee, said Nancy Andress, assistant superintendent for instruction. The committee, which consists of three board of education members, principals from around the district, kindergarten teachers, PTA volunteers, and early childhood education providers, is in the process of discussing the benefits and drawbacks a full-day kindergarten program would have for Guilderland schools.

"The focus of the group is to look at the need for full-day kindergarten, what are the resources needed, and what are the staffing concerns," said Andress.

Statistics at the National Center for Education Statistics Web site (http://nces.ed.gov) suggest that full-day kindergarten programs benefit children by increasing the amount of time spent focused on key subjects such as mathematics and reading.

So far, Andress said she supports the full-day program.

"I think it would offer expanded opportunities for students. It's an [additional] two-and-a-half-hour program; it allows for enrichment," she said. "It's really a developmental approach, offering them more earlier."

Harriet Fogarty, who teaches kindergarten at Lynnwood Elementary, agrees. "We already have a wonderful program, but this gives us a chance to develop concepts deeper. It could expand an already developed program," she said.

The program would use things already in place but on a greater, more focused scale.

"We would be developing their stamina and grade-school behaviors," said Fogarty.

However, Fogarty recognizes that the shift from half-day kindergarten to full-day could be taxing.

"There are always the adjustments, but we have adjustments all the time," she said. "The pace is very different."

Nonetheless, she said she remains supportive of the potential need for a full-day program because it benefits all students and gives teachers a chance to focus on children who are at risk by giving them more time to work.

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