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All-day kindergarten gets axed

A lot of kindergarten students will have more time on their hands next fall.

Oak Harbor School District administrators have decided to discontinue all-day kindergarten classes for the upcoming school year, citing lack of space as the reason.

The district has offered the option of all-day kindergarten for the past three years, with parents picking up the tab for tuition costs for the extended part of the school day that is unfunded by the state.

The matter came before the school board at its regular meeting Monday night, not for action, but for “informational purposes” and because parents who wanted all-day kindergarten for their children beginning this fall are “unhappy” with the decision to discontinue it, said Rick Schulte, superintendent, in his written report to the board.

This type of change can be made administratively, with no requirement for board approval. The board could have overridden the superintendent’s recommendation, but instead agreed with him.

Since first offering all-day kindergarten the district has stated that the extended day offering may be discontinued at any time if the district needs that class space for other purposes, such as reducing class size, Schulte also said.

The district must find additional class space for the upcoming school year to house Broad View Elementary students while that campus is being remodeled. With the strain on available space due to the planned dispersal of the Broad View students to the other five elementary schools in the district, the classes that were used for all-day kindergarten need to be freed up.

Kathy Jones, board president, asked Schulte during the board meeting if all-day kindergarten can be reinstituted in the future. All-day kindergarten, found through research studies to be of great benefit in helping children succeed throughout their school years, can be reinstituted as early as next year, Schulte said, if the district has the space and money for it.

Ideally, Schulte said, all-day kindergarten should be available to all children, not just those whose parents can afford to pay for it.

Studies indicate, Schulte said, that children who benefit the most from all-day kindergarten are those from disadvantaged homes, so children served by the program in Oak Harbor weren’t the ones who could most benefit from it.

Parents sending their children to all-day kindergarten last year paid $230 per month for the extended day.

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