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Full-day kindergarten lauded in Franklin Regional presentation

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Tuesday, Feb. 21, 2012

The Franklin Regional school board plans to decide on March 19 whether to maintain the district's full-day kindergarten program or revert to half-day.

Sloan Elementary kindergarten teacher Libby Carr presented the board last night with an analysis of the full-day program and its benefits.

"This is powerful data," she said.

Full-day kindergarten is under scrutiny as the board examines ways to reduce a budget shortfall. Carr said kindergarteners now get more math and literacy work, as well as technology, music, art and library time, compared to the half-day program.

The full-day kindergarten program started in the 2004-05 school year through accountability block grants from the state for early childhood education. Franklin Regional kindergarteners now get 6.5 hours of instruction, compared with 2.5 hours in a half-day program. The additional four hours has resulted in better scores, more one-on-one time and increased literacy, Carr said.

"There just wasn't the time for the in-depth learning" in half-day kindergarten, Carr said. "Now we are doing a large amount of daily writing. That's a big, important change."

Teachers also have been able to connect more with students and get to know their strengths and weaknesses, Carr said.

"We're spending so much time with them ... that we know their needs and are able to look day-to-day at where they're struggling," she said.

The grant amount decreased by $240,000 during the previous fiscal year, and the board is trying to determine whether it is financially feasible to continue.

Gregory Poole, parent of a kindergartener in Carr's classroom, told the board he has been impressed by his son's achievements in the full-day program.

"The kindergarten curriculum, when it works, it gets them the help they need" without special services in first grade, Poole said.

Carr was applauded by a standing-room-only crowd after her presentation. The item will be on the board's agenda for discussion during its March 5 meeting and up for a vote on March 19, Superintendent Emery D'Arcangelo said.

The district has rescheduled kindergarten orientation for March 28 at Newlonsburg Elementary for classes at Newlonsburg and Heritage elementaries and for March 29 at Sloan Elementary. Both orientations are scheduled to begin at 7 p.m.

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