Mohonasen mulls full-day kindergarten

Kathleen Spring, superintendent for the Mohonasen Central School District, recommended implementing a full-day kindergarten program for the 2009-2010 school year.

The plan has been on and off the table for 20 years.

We believe, based upon our research, that it was the right thing to do but financially and space-wise, 20 years ago it didn't work," said Spring at the Monday, March 23, school board meeting.

In her presentation, she pointed to the positive feedback from focus groups and a community survey regarding a switch to full-day kindergarten. She also noted the increasing standards and graduation requirements students are expected to meet at ever younger ages, and said a full day of kindergarten would better prepare the students of the future.

Spring said that parents of incoming kindergarteners have asked about the possibility of a full-day program, and she said some have expressed concern that a full-day program would make kindergarten like the new first grade.

That would not be the case, Spring said.

"Full-day kindergarten would give us the opportunity to start students earlier and immerse them further," she said "It's not pushing first grade down to kindergarten, but it's about doing a developmentally appropriate program."

She also noted that in a time when the many schools in the area are laying teachers off, a move to full-day kindergarten would actually preserve, or even create, elementary school jobs. The district could also save money by eliminating mid-day bus runs.

District officials have also said that declining enrollment over the years has created more space for such a program, and the district could use that as an opportunity to get money from the federal stimulus package to fund new positions.

Many area school districts have also recently adopted full-day kindergarten programs, including Schalmont Central School District, Bethlehem Central School District and Scotia-Glenville Central School District.

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