Region 16 targets 2015-16 for full-day K

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REGION 16 — Region 16 Superintendent of Schools Tim James has laid out a preliminary blueprint to bring full-day kindergarten to the district starting in the 2015-16 school year.  

James presented a draft plan to the Board of Education for its review last week of what needs to be done between now and the fall of 2015 to implement full-day kindergarten in Beacon Falls and Prospect.

The plan calls for a full-day kindergarten planning team — comprised of administrators, teachers and parents — to be established this spring. The team would be charged with completing a host of tasks, including developing a full-day kindergarten curriculum, planning professional development for teachers, determining the financial impact of full-day kindergarten and figuring out how to arrange classrooms to make room for the additional classes.

James added the team will work with Woodland Regional High School students to create public service announcements on a full-day kindergarten program.

If everything goes as James envisions the team will present its plan and recommendations in March 2015 to the board, which would in turn take action that same month. If approved, full-day kindergarten would then begin in the 2015-16 school year at Laurel Ledge Elementary School in Beacon Falls and the new Prospect Elementary School. The new school is currently under construction and scheduled to open in the fall of 2015.

Currently, the district offers half-day kindergarten for two and half hours a day. Full-day kindergarten would mean kindergartners would attend school for the full six-hour school day.

The majority of school districts in the state already provide full-day kindergarten.

According to information on the state Department of Education’s website, 103 school districts offered full-day kindergarten to its students in the 2012-13 school year, the most figures available. Twenty-three districts offered full-day kindergarten to some of its students, while nine districts had an extended-day program.

Region 16 was one of 36 districts in the 2012-13 school year to provide half-day kindergarten to all students, according to the department’s website.

James said there is a lot of work to do, but the time has come for the district to expand its kindergarten program.

Full-day kindergarten will allow for more to be done with students and better prepare them for first grade, James said. With the state moving towards universal preschool, he said, students will be coming to kindergarten ready for a full day.

James added full-day kindergarten also makes sense in terms of childcare for parents in today’s economy.

The board took no action on the draft plan last week.

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