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South Colonie moves toward full-day kindergarten

Before, kindergarteners had a break in their day for some physical education. In 2009, they will have time for physical education, art, music, health and lunch.

In September 2009, the South Colonie Central School District will switch all five of its elementary schools to full-day kindergarten.

Although many school districts throughout the Capital District have been contemplating the switch, South Colonie is one of the few that actually will move forward with the measure in the middle of a budget year where cost-cutting is a common theme.

According to Superintendent of Schools Jonathan Buhner, there are costs associated with staffing and having the building space for full-day kindergarten, however the district will receive about $900,000 in state aid to help with the transition.

It's essentially money to get you going, Buhner said. "It tails off after a certain amount of time, and then your kids are rolled into enrollment."

Buhner said the district is lucky because, over the years, the community has supported several building projects that have provided the district with enough classroom space for the new full-day program.

At the same time the community was approving that added space for the full-day program, the kindergarten program itself was changing.

According to Roessleville Principal Suzanne Moore, all five of the district's elementary schools (Roessleville, Veeder, Saddlewood, Shaker Road and Forest Park), were operating under a half-day kindergarten system until three years ago. Then-Superintendent of Schools Michael Marcelle began moving the elementary schools into transitional kindergarten one by one, Moore said.

Transitional kindergarten combines half- and full-day kindergarten into one school year. Students begin the year in small classes in two sections, a morning section and an afternoon section. Mid-year, the students in both sections combine to form full-day kindergarten.

Roessleville became the first of the elementary schools to use the transitional kindergarten, with Shaker Road and Saddlewood following.

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