By ANDREA POTEET
Sunday Times Newspapers
WYANDOTTE – Wyandotte Public Schools kindergarten students will spend more time in the classroom beginning next school year.
The board of education voted unanimously Oct. 11 to extend kindergarten from half to full days.
The move comes after the state legislature voted earlier this year to halt giving full-day status to half-day kindergarten programs, which would mean a loss of more than $3,000 per pupil in funding for schools who failed to lengthen their kindergarten class days.
Board Trustee Kathy Bedikian said the benefits extend further than finances. She said that the window of education between kindergarten and third grade is crucial for academic success later on.
“This is a move that is long overdue, yet most districts still do not have all day kindergarten,” she said. “This is the best practice for our kids to ensure a great educational start. If a child has an adequate preschool experience and then all day kindergarten he or she has a much greater foundation than the child whose first school experience is half-day kindergarten.”
The switch is expected to require four to five new teachers for an estimated cost of $400,000. The five teachers who have not been rehired by the district after April layoffs will likely be asked to fill the positions, Trustee Robert Kirby said.
Kirby said the only drawback he sees to the plan is in scheduling with parents. Preparing for the move in advance of the next school year will help ease the transition, he said.
“Giving people information as early as possible will help parents make better decisions for their children’s education,” he said. “I have always liked a proactive approach, I think that this will be a good thing for Wyandotte and a great thing for those students who will reap the benefits of a full day of school.”
Bedkian said that some parents may be apprehensive about the change, but she is confident that the move is in the best interest of students.
“They are not always ready to let their 5-year-old go to school all day, particularly if they have not had a preschool experience,” she said. “But they are ready. And if they need some help adjusting to that, it will be attended to.”