No more half-days for kindergarten students

By Ronald MacArthur

There will be no more half-day kindergarten in the Seaford School District starting in September of the 2004-05 school year. The Seaford Board of Education voted unanimously Monday night to implement a full-day kindergarten program on the strong recommendation of Superintendent Dr. Russell Knorr and Dr. Earl Cannon, director of elementary education. “We are not able to meet standards set by the state because our teachers do not have enough learning time in kindergarten,” Dr. Knorr said. A typical half-day of kindergarten is 2 hours and 45 minutes. “There is extra learning time available to students in all other grades except kindergarten. Not every child is coming to school ready to learn. “It is extremely important, critically important, that we make a statement and implement all-day kindergarten,” he told the board. Dr. Cannon made the official report to the board on the findings of a committee charged with investigating the idea of a full-day kindergarten in Seaford. In his report, Dr. Cannon explained that the rationale for full-day kindergarten is based in research. “Recent research has shown that children who attend full-day kindergarten are better prepared to succeed in first grade,” he said. “There are consistent findings concerning the positive effects on academic achievement for children identified as being at risk. “There is also evidence that full-day kindergarten has stronger, longer-lasting academic benefits for children from low-income families. Full-day kindergarten programs produce higher reading scores in second and third grade students. Full-day kindergarten reduces the need for special programs. Also for working parents, full-day programs limit the number of transitions that must be made during a day, reducing child and parental stress.”
Dr. Cannon pointed out that 15 percent of Seaford students enter kindergarten recognizing their letters versus 66 percent nationwide and 53 percent of Seaford students enter kindergarten knowing their numbers 1-10 versus 94 percent nationwide. He noted that there were two barriers to overcome to implement the program - funding and space. The district received a windfall of sorts with a doubling of Title I funds that will enable the district to fund the salaries of seven teachers. Dr. Knorr added that some state funding may be available for full-day kindergarten as well, but that the district needs to make the move even if it means tightening the budget in other areas. “And with our re-organization of the elementary schools there is some space available right now in all schools except Blades,” Dr. Cannon said. He added that it will take some more work to find the additional classroom needed at the Blades school. “We want to make this announcement early to give parents more time,” he added. The Laurel and Smyrna school districts have switched to full-day kindergarten programs. “And we were told that the kids adjusted very quickly,” Dr. Cannon said.

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