Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Big N is missing out on Kindergarten

Ever since the city of Ellensburg announced the cut to the kindergarten program it has been apparent that the kids are truly the ones losing in this situation. However, it is surprising just how much they are losing.

If you do not have a kindergartner in Ellensburg, you may not be aware of what the budget cuts have done. The city proposed 1/2 day only kindergarten with no bus service in the middle of the day or alternating full-day kindergarten. With both parents working full-time in our household, the only option was alternating full-day kindergarten.

For the entire month of November, Big N will have attended kindergarten 7 days. 5 fulls days, 1 half day, and a single day that was a gift from his teacher. He loves kindergarten, but he is hardly there and it is of no fault other than the city deciding to leave the kindergartner's behind this year.

The Washington state Legislature has set a minimum number of days that kindergarten should be in school as 180 half days.

WAC 180-16-215
Minimum one hundred eighty school day year.
(1)(a) One hundred eighty school day requirement. Each school district shall conduct a school year of no less than one hundred eighty school days in such grades as are conducted by the school district, and one hundred eighty half-days of instruction, or the equivalent, in kindergarten. If a school district schedules a kindergarten program other than one hundred eighty half-days, the district shall attach an explanation of its kindergarten schedule when providing compliance documentation to the state board of education staff.

I was curious if the math would work out. I sat down with Big N's school calendar and counted the days he will attend. The count worked out to 77 full days and 8 half-days. If we count each full day as 2 half days, the actual count is (77 * 2) + 8 = 162 half days.

For the entire school year, he will only get to go to school 85 times.

How on earth is this a 180 day equivalent? And why would the school board approve this set-up?

I think the kids are truly losing out this year.

What is even more appalling is kindergarten is totally canceled during conference days, when the rest of the school is still coming for half-days. This accounts for 10 half-day opportunities that the teachers are present and the kindergarten kids are once again, missing out.

Whoever decided that kindergarten doesn't matter should be ashamed of themselves.

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