The Colman-Egan school board met in regular session last Tuesday night in the school’s library. Among many other topics, the school board made a decision to keep their Kindergarten schedule the same, despite months of talk about the potential of changing it to full time all-year-round.
C-E’s current model has students attending kindergarten three days a week for the first nine weeks followed by a full five-day schedule for the remainder of the year.
Colman-Egan Superintendent Darold Rounds began the discussion by stating that he had looked at a lot of research showing that children are so tired after full-day kindergarten that they do not get involved in social activity during school. After learning that, he made a suggestion to the board to not change the current model.
“After listening to public input during the November 2012 school board meeting, the school board researched the academic benefits of full-time versus part-time kindergarten,” said Board Vice Chairman Jennifer Keyes.
“What we found, compared full-time all year, versus part-time all year. There was no research on our exact model.”
“The researched reviewed by the board indicates that there are academic benefits for students attending full-time kindergarten. The results from these studies showed modestly higher reading and math scores at the end of the kindergarten year compared to part-time kindergarten enrollment. That discrepancy is greatly diminished by the start of first grade and completely eliminated by the start of third grade,” Keyes went on to say in the board’s statement.
The board said at the end of the prepared statement that they will not change the current model but will talk to the Calendar Committee to ensure that there are no teacher in-services during the first nine weeks to allow the kindergarten students as many days as possible.
With over a handful of concerned parents and teachers in attendance, the board allowed for comments from the guests, all of which seemed to be upset with the board’s decision.
“So it is okay for our students to lag behind in kindergarten, first, second and third grade compared to full-time kindergarten students,” one teacher asked. “I have found a ton of research from the National Education Association stating that their number one goal is get everyone into all day kindergarten.”
“Why does every other school in our area have all day kindergarten if there are no academic benefits of it,” one parent asked the board. In which Mary Beth Zwart, a member of the school board, responded with, “If educational research can’t tell us it is better for our students, then why make a change based on ‘it’s what other schools do’?” She went on to say, “We have a great model here and our students are achieving.”
Some of the guests had some other concerns with the board’s findings and addressed them before the topic ended.
“The special education rate should be around 5-7% and Colman-Egan is at 17%. To me I’d say maybe there are some things we need to look at and try differently and maybe this is just one step in the direction we need to go,” one teacher said.
The board did not believe that the model they have, which is full-time kindergarten for all but 18 days of the year, affected the special education rate since students are not determined to be so until third or fourth grade.
After all the discussion was completed, the board reassured the guests that they will talk to the Calendar Committee to make sure that the only days the kindergarten students miss in the first nine weeks are Monday holidays, Labor Day and Native American Day.