Full-day kindergarten likely for Santa Paula schools

May 13, 2005
Santa Paula News

Santa Paula Elementary School District trustees are considering a plan to implement full-day kindergarten in all schools, starting next school year.

By Brian D. WilsonSanta Paula TimesSanta Paula Elementary School District trustees are considering a plan to implement full-day kindergarten in all schools, starting next school year.The board heard a first reading of the proposal at this week’s board meeting.District Superintendent Dr. Luis Villegas says going to a full day would enhance student achievement. “We are increasing the number of pre-school seats that we have in the district,” he said. “We’ve put more training into all of our schools. One of the things we believe we also need to do is better prepare our kids in the primary grades in general, but specifically in kindergarten.”Fewer than half of the kindergarten students entering the district have attended pre-school. Educators say they see a marked academic difference between kindergarten students with pre-school experience and those without that experience.Dr. Villegas says that research indicates that kindergarten students in full-day classes demonstrate significantly higher academic achievement in reading, mathematics, science and social studies than kindergarten students in half-day classrooms.A study done by the Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children (2000) reported that full-day kindergarten “works best for kids who need it most - children at risk of later life failure because of detrimental circumstances in their homes, communities and schools.” Furthermore, they reported, “full-day kindergarten has both immediate and long-term benefits.” In addition, the report included the following findings:• Full-day kindergarten reduces disruptions and transitions in a child’s day.• Teachers have more time for formal and informal lessons, for individual attention, and for reinforcement of positive behavior.• Full-day kindergartners are more creative and cooperative.
• They learn and think independently are more involved in the classroom, and work productively with there peers.• Full-day kindergartners can get a nutritious breakfast and lunch every school day.• School officials have more opportunities to spot young children’s learning and behavioral problems, allowing for more timely and effective intervention.• Full-day kindergartners show higher scores on first grade reading readiness tests, on both reading and achievement test in early elementary grades, and on achievement tests in grades 3, 5 and 7.• Full-day kindergartners have better report cards and fewer retentions in later school years.• Children from low income or educationally disadvantaged backgrounds, in particular, show lasting academic and behavioral benefits.• School remedial instruction and special education costs can decline because of early intervention.The Santa Paula proposal is that full-day kindergarten start this August. The instructional day will reflect the same number of minutes currently required for grades 1-5. It will include an expansion of language arts, math, science and social studies. In addition, the increase in time will provide time for experiences in art, music, physical education and motor-sensory development.Parents of incoming kindergarten students will be informed next month of the implementation of full-day kindergarten, should the Board of Education approve it at its June meeting.The addition of relocatables at Blanchard School will require the rental and delivery of two portables at about $24,000 for the 2005-2006 school year and $12,000 each subsequent year. Furniture and equipment will need to be purchased for some classrooms with a projected cost of between $48,000 and $60,000 for eight additional classrooms.

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