CKSD offers more all-day kindergarten

Like a sponge, elementary-aged children have been proven to retain more information and critical thinking skills than any other age group, according to the Washington State Department of Early Learning Web site.

For the 2007-08 school year, the Central Kitsap School District is offering additional all-day kindergarten classes at Clear Creek and Esquire Hills elementary schools. The two schools in the district that currently offer all-day kindergarten programs are Jackson Park and PineCrest elementary schools.

“A full-day program allows children and teachers to explore subjects in depth,” said Hertica Martin, CKSD executive director of elementary teaching and learning. “(Providing) a greater continuity of day-to-day activities.”

While providing students more time to learn the critical skills necessary to excel in the first grade, Sandra Horst, principal at Esquire Hills, said she wants students to be confident and excited about the skills they learn.

“We have wanted all day-kindergarten for years,” Horst said. “We want to give our kids an equal chance.”

In an all-day classroom, students are alloted more hands-on opportunities while gaining more in-depth instruction in all subjects, said Tess Danubio, principal at Jackson Park, who had the all-day kindergarten program implemented at the school last year.

“Kids at this age are just sponges, and they dive right into science, reading, counting, writing and drawing,” Danubio added. “There is also time for extension projects (like) reading and exploring a subject like bugs and then writing about it and sharing that writing.”

While the all-day program at Jackson Park, Clear Creek and Esquire Hills are free, PineCrest charges tuition for the second half of the day. Under Basic Education funding from the state, only half the day of kindergarten is covered, thus leaving schools to find funding for the second half.

Due to large numbers of free/reduced lunch students, Jackson Park, Clear Creek and Esquire Hills are all funded by Title I, a federal program providing funds and services to schools based on student economic need. Because these schools have individual percentages of up to 40 percent free/reduced lunch students, they receive funding to help off-set the costs for educational improvements. These funds also cover the salaries of teachers who are teaching 19 students for all-day kindergarten instead of 38 students for two sessions of half-day kindergarten.

Sections of Jackson Park and Clear Creek also are paid for with Initiative 728, which provides additional money to help students reach state learning standards and provides extended learning opportunities.

Because PineCrest does not receive Title I funds, they require a tuition fee for the second half of the day. Sue Corey, principal at PineCrest, said she was worried at first when the turnout of parents at the information night was slim, but feels better now as more interested individuals are calling for additional information. PineCrest has offered all-day kindergarten for seven years.

“I feel much better than I did last week,” Corey added with a laugh. “Over the years we’ve had (all-day kindergarten) we’ve seen kids make more progress. A full day certainly has an impact on (the students’) ability to read.”

Because Clear Creek, Esquire Hills and Jackson Park have high numbers of free/reduced lunch children, those families receive priority for registration.

“We have criteria for each of those buildings, based on the need,” Martin said.

For Jackson Park and Esquire Hills students, the first priority is any student in the school boundary. After that, registration is open to any free/reduced lunch students within CKSD. Lastly, registration opens for anyone inside or outside CKSD, depending on room.

For Clear Creek, priority registration goes to free/reduced lunch students within the Clear Creek school boundary. Next, availability opens to all other Clear Creek students. Then registration is open to free/reduced students in the district, non-Clear Creek boundary students. After that point, if there is still room for additional students, registration is open to all families in and outside the district.

Registration at PineCrest begins with students living in the school boundaries, which will include a large number of students who lived in the Tracyton boundary prior to its closure. Then the registration opens to all children inside CKSD and then out of district students. Depending on household income, there are various tuition costs. There are 16 openings for $2,200, two for $1,100 and one for $550. Parents are asked to pay half of the tuition by Sept. 1, while the rest can be spread out over an eight-month period. Although more students register than places allotted, PineCrest keeps a waiting list and will call parents if an opening occurs during the year.

Ninette Haynes, principal of Clear Creek Elementary, said a full day of kindergarten is good for students because it provides services across the district.

“When you have a half-day program, there’s only so much you can fit into (that time),” Haynes explained. “(All-day kindergarten) allows more time to learn the core subjects.

Although registration for these kindergarten classes began this week, there will be a second round of registration on Aug. 20 and 21. Martin added that parents can register throughout the summer as well.

Martin said she would love to provide all-day kindergarten to all of the elementary schools in the district eventually.

“All of our children deserve to have the opportunity to have a great start in school,” Martin added. “Our plan is to offer that opportunity at all the elementary schools in the future.”

For more information on all-day kindergarten registration, contact Clear Creek Elementary School at (360) 662-8100, Esquire Hills Elementary School at (360)0662-8600, Jackson Park Elementary School at (360) 662-9000 or PineCrest Elementary School at (360) 662-9200.

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