Committee recommends all-day K, no Young Fives for SL schools

The special committee and Spring Lake Public Schools leaders will present informational forums to parents and community members at 7 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday, Feb. 28-29, at the Spring Lake Middle School auditorium.
Marie Havenga
Feb 21, 2012

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Because of changes in state funding, the district is following the trend of schools statewide to dump morning and afternoon kindergarten schedules in favor of all-day classes.

The committee and Spring Lake Public Schools leaders will present informational forums to parents and community members at 7 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday, Feb. 28-29, at the Spring Lake Middle School auditorium. A question-and-answer session will follow each of the presentations.

SLPS Director of Curriculum Beverly Hundley told the board Monday night that the committee spent hundreds of hours researching full-time kindergarten and concluded it is in the best interest of Spring Lake students.

“The kindergarten curriculum has changed over the course of many years, but the one thing that didn’t change was the length of the day,” Hundley said of rigorous state teaching requirements.

The new schedule will include three recesses, a literacy block, science/social studies/life skills, a math block, rest and reading, purposeful play — and “specials” such as art, gym and technology.

Hundley said 65 percent of kindergartners across the country attend full-day classes, and research has shown better attendance with no increased levels of fatigue.

The full-day schedule will increase classroom time from 540 hours to at least 1,080 hours, and provide for more educational time and purposeful play.

Kindergartners will attend school from 8:35 a.m. to 3:35 p.m., the same as other elementary grades.

The committee also recommend that the school board discontinue the Young Fives program, provide paraprofessional support in kindergarten classrooms and provide a week-long summer kindergarten camp for children who have not experienced preschool. The committee also encouraged applying for a great state readiness program for children with challenges to learning.
Spring Lake Superintendent Dennis Furton said Monday night that the district would lose about $730,000 by continuing with half-day kindergarten schedules.

The move will require four additional kindergarten teachers and the equivalent of 1.67 “special” teachers. Staffing costs are expected to increase from $759,000 to $1.1 million annually, and additional supplies will cost about $12,000 per classroom.

“This isn’t about money, it’s about educational opportunities,” Furton said. “This is a huge opportunity for our kindergartners. When the Class of 2025 graduates, it’s going to be a whole different world that those kids encounter.”

Furton said he was skeptical about some aspects of full-time kindergarten at first, but the research alleviated his concerns.

Board of Education President Dina Horne said she was impressed with the presentation.

“We really appreciate the hard work the committee has done,” Horne said. “They did their homework for sure.”

The board will formally vote on the change at its March meeting.

Comments

rationalresident

Here is yet another example of a School Board making a decision based on the bottom line instead of what is in the best interest of our children!

Doing away with the young fives program, or even extending it to an all day program (which is what G.H. will likely do), is a HUGE mistake. These kids benefit tremendously from having that extra year and time to grow in their socialization skills. It will be interesting to see what kind of negative affect this will have on the MEAP scores once these children begin testing.

Note to School Board Members ... Sometimes doing the right thing is the more costly of the two alternatives. My guess is not one person on the SLT board has any 1, 2, or 3 yr old children that will be affected by this. Truly sad.

theQuin

These committee members obviously have no understanding of child development! Luckily, my kids are past K stage!

Zippy Jones

When is the community going to wake up and begin asking this "cowboy" some tougher questions that he has to answer?. Spring Lake was once a leading district because people worked together as a family to create the best opportunities to benefit students. (That's all an illusion now). Research on child development will show that one should consider the "stage of a child's development" first, not age". Young 5's is a program for children born later; for those not quite ready, NOT yet READY for Kinder. They need another year to simmer and will allow the child a much sounder base upon which to build 12 years of education. Students who are rushed into Kinder before they are developmentally ready, tend to struggle for 12 years. Those who say it's simply a "repeat of kindergarten" are thinking small, and really do not have a grasp of how learning evolves. It wouldn't take much to develop a rich experiential learning curriculum that parallels kinder, allowing children added academic repetition and while allowing "not-ready-for-prime time" Y5ers time to bloom.

Since when did Spring Lake Public Schools lose it's focus on people and start worshiping numbers, money and cut-throat management. Rubber stamping a pseudo-study by a committee who is scared to lose their jobs is a great way to lose the district(no data was submitted to show that Y5's was ineffective- I'd argue to the opposite), The Board better begin asking questions and looking deeper into Experiment F. The community of SL deserves much more than the present climate.

winston

Slinging mud anonymously? Doesn't reflect well on your otherwise thoughtful post. There is plenty of room to disagree about the committee's recommendation but no room for anonymous personal attacks (who monitors this place?!). As for the SLPS teachers, give them some credit. I know many of them that teach in the elementary and while I can't say that they all agree with this recommendation (I've only discussed it with a handful), I've had several tell me that most do. Fear of losing their jobs? Get real! My kids are having a great year at SLPS and every time I see their teachers (socially and at school), they express the job-related happiness I've always seen and heard from them. Again, lose the targeted attack and short-sell on the teachers and you might have actually had something to say that was worthy of consideration.

anonymous

My education class had an in-depth discussion about this. Just so you're all aware, there is a Michigan law that allows parents to hold their child back from starting Kindergarten right away. If the parents believe that it is developmentally harmful, then they're able to sign a waiver saying that the parents will be able to teach the child the necessary skills for Kindergarten. As parents, it is your decision. However, when they turn five, they are legally supposed to be in Kindergarten.

Besides, this new all-day Kindergarten will have allow more teachers to be hired because the school will need more help. Many schools have already started the all-day Kindergarten with very good results. Hesperia, a school that I observed under, has full-day Kindergarten. The students get multiple recesses, and there is always a lot of help from parents and other teachers.

Please, do the research and inquire before spouting your opinion. It would be in everyone's best interest. There are plenty of PDF files online that allow you to understand full-day Kindergarten more.

Boater

If anyone is interested in a fantastic Young 5 program, check out St. Mary's School in Spring Lake. They have offered this program for several years and have had great success. It is a wonderful option available within our community.

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