This year's "Kindergarten Round Up" event will be the first of its kind.
The event will take place Wednesday and Thursday, March 14 and 15 at . It will provide the district with a prediction of expected Kindergarten and new student enrollment for the coming school year, and this year will help the district predict how many children will enroll in a new transitional kindergarten program.
The program is one aspect of a law regarding kindergarten preparedness.
Aimed at taking effect in the coming school year, the California Department of Education’s Kindergarten Readiness Act of 2010 (pursuant to Senate Bill 1381), changed the required birth date for admission to kindergarten and first grade and established a transitional kindergarten program.
According to the law, children turning five years old on or before Nov. 2 may be admitted to a kindergarten maintained by the local district at the beginning of the coming school year. For 2013-2014, that date moves up to Oct. 2, and for 2014-2015 the date moves to Sept. 2.
Concurrently, transitional kindergarten is aimed at providing an age-appropriate preparedness program for students who are not five years old before Nov. 2, 2012 (Oct. 2, in 2013 or Sept. 2 in 2014 and every year thereafter).
Jane Golden, Director of Curriculum and Special Projects for PUSD, elaborated on the transitional kindergarten program.
“I think it will be a tremendously valuable program,” she said.
“For years, California has been behind other states on when our youngest children start school. We’re one of three states where four year olds start kindergarten.
“That is much too early to be expected to be reading and writing.”
Transitional kindergarten, said Golden, provides an opportunity for students to receive developmentally appropriate instruction in literacy and language, plus fine and gross motor skills.
“It will benefit children and overall all of us, as children matriculate through the system,” she said.
Golden stressed that transitional kindergarten will be funded, in full, by the State of California, rather than from local district funds.
“Our district is cutting $5 million dollars and laying off 75 people,” she said.
“We have to have this program be cost neutral to the district. What we’ll be receiving (from the state) and what the cost is (for transitional kindergarten) will be the same.”
Although a final decision regarding implementation of transitional kindergarten for PUSD students for 2012-2013 is still being discussed, the district is planning for the program. If the school board formally approves it next week, the district then will use enrollment numbers from Round Up and bill the state based on those numbers. The district will hire transitional kindergarten staff, purchase educational materials and begin the program with the expectation of getting reimbursed several months into the school year.
"We intend that this will be reimbursed and will not cost our district any money," said Golden.
Although California parents are not required to enroll children in either program – transitional kindergarten or kindergarten – the new law requires that all districts provide both programs for any eligible children.
Senate Bill 1381, on which the Kindergarten Readiness Act of 2010 is based, states that “The California Constitution requires the state to reimburse local agencies and school districts for certain costs mandated by the state.”
But the Education component of Governor Brown’s budget plan, presented in January, calls for a possible suspension of the transitional kindergarten program.
Still, Pleasanton Unified is forging ahead with plans for how to develop and offer the program for transitional kindergartners.
“We are taking the position that the program will be required and that 98 percent of (children who turn five in November) will go into transitional kindergarten.”
Some families, she said, may still want their children who will not be five until after Nov. 2 to start kindergarten.
“We’ll assess those children,” she said, “and if parents of September and October children want kindergarten, that’s fine. If they want transitional kindergarten, we’re going to try to meet parents’ wishes and they’ll be put on a wait list.
“We view it as a two-year learning program,” she said, adding that, if approved to begin in the coming school year, by 2015 transitional kindergarten will be offered to all children who turn five between September 2 and December 2 of that year.
At the PUSD Board of Trustees meeting Tuesday, March 13, Golden and other school district staff will seek final approval for the program by presenting various detailed scenarios under which the progam would be implemented.
Kindergarten Round Up and New Student Registration Days:
- Wednesday, March 14 or Thursday, March 15, both days from 3:30 – 7:30 p.m.
- To avoid unnecessary crowding, PUSD recommends last names beginning with A-L attend March 14, and last names beginning with M-Z attend March 15.
- Amador Valley High School, Small Gym
- Parents only: Do not bring children.
- Students who will be 5 years of age by November 1, 2012 are eligible to register for Kindergarten. All information and forms are available on the district’s Pupil Services page.
- Parents need to bring the originals and copies of your students’ birth certificate or passport, immunization records, registration form and two proofs of residency (see the Kindergarten Informational Flyer for examples).
- Transitional kindergarten registrations will be collected at Kindergarten Round Up for students with birthdates of Nov. 2 – Dec. 2, 2007.
The transitional kindergarten program is still being reviewed. Should the program be approved, parents will be notified of the location and details of transitional kindergarten.