District report recommends full-day kindergarten

20 Nov

Webster residents have spoken, and they overwhelmingly support full-day kindergarten.

That fact among all others stands out most clearly from the Full Day Kindergarten Final Report which was presented to the Webster Board of Education earlier this month. The committee which compiled the report — comprised of more than 60 people including administrators, teachers, parents and other community members — met monthly from March through November, researched the subject, went on site visits, and distributed an opinion survey. They presented their findings to the Board of Education on November 8 in an 80-page report buoyed by more than 200 pages of supporting materials.

Basically it all boiled down to one decisive statement, presented right off the bat:

It is the recommendation of the Full Day Kindergarten District Advisory Committee that the Board of Education pursue the implementation of a Full Day Kindergarten Program for Webster students, beginning in the 2013‐2014 school year.

Click here if you’d like to read the entire report for yourself.  There are a lot of charts and graphs and talk about core standards and curriculum requirements, if you really want to slog through all that. But what I found most interesting were the results of the opinion survey.

More than 1200 people completed the online survey, including a lot of people who don’t have children in the schools, and even some non-Webster residents. On the question of whether Webster should institute full-day kindergarten, the results were clear: 78% said yes, 22% said no.

The comments were also quite interesting. The two main reasons people gave in support of full-day kindergarten were to 1) allow more time for instruction and social/emotional development, and 2) offer a more manageable schedule and lower daycare costs for or parents who work full-time.

Typical comments in this section read:

Hopefully a longer day will not only encourage academic growth but also allow time for children to ‘think outside the box’ and be creative and learn through play!

Webster cannot continue as an academic power house without full-day kindergarten. We have to get on board, as the stakes are too high with all these new standards.

and of course,

For children who need care outside of the half day hours. It is too much shuffling around to bus to school then day care then home.

On the other side of the argument were diametrically opposite comments:

Let our kids enjoy their youth. They have plenty of years to spend all day in the classroom. 6+ hours is too long of a day for 5 and 6 year olds.

I am primarily concerned with what’s best for the children developmentally at this age, not just the cost or the convenience for working parents currently needing daycare for their children.

Judging from the response to the survey and to the initial call for community participation on the committee (80 people showed up), it’s clear that community interest in this topic is strong. And even though the committee has recommended that the district adopt full-day kindergarten next year, they don’t have the last word.

You do.

District administrators are now asking for community feedback about the proposal. They’re hosting an informal conversation with members of the Board of Education on Thursday, November 29 beginning at 7 pm at Spry Middle School, 119 South Avenue.

So if you haven’t had a chance to express your opinion, or would like to do so again, take a look at the committee’s report, attend the meeting and join the conversation.

Click here to see the whole report.

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