Equity sought for district’s kindergartens | SummitDaily.com

Equity sought for district’s kindergartens

Dillon Valley Elementary School kindergarden teacher Patty Edson assists, clockwise from center, Carlos Emilio Rojas, Teirnan Van Vliet and Sami Gardner with their reading bookbags Ñ a set of materials aimed at teaching reading fundamentals such as left-to-right sentence flow and word recognition. Edson said the full-day classes afford her more time to work individually with students.

SUMMIT COUNTY – Having the opportunity to attend full-day kindergarten could mean the difference between a child struggling or doing well in school.

Summit School District officials want every kindergartner to have that chance.

“I am an absolute 100 percent advocate of full-day kindergarten,” said Schools Superintendent Lynn Spampinato. “Because we only get reimbursed half, the district has to make that a priority in lean budget times.”

Budget times already are lean and officials expect additional funding cuts in January.

This is the second year the district has offered full-day kindergarten for students at Breckenridge, Frisco Silverthorne and Dillon Valley elementary schools. The program is not available at Summit Cove or Upper Blue – though students there can sign up for full-day kindergarten at one of the other schools.

As they reviewed the proposed budget in June, school board members discussed how to make the program equitable and offer it at all the district’s elementary schools, given the financial constraints. To add the program to Summit Cove and Upper Blue would cost the district an additional $25,000 – money that would have to be cut from other programs – and officials decided, for the time being, that something was better than nothing.

Though only in its second year, school officials already are seeing a gap between the students who attended half-day kindergarten and those who went to the full-day program.

“There is a learning gap and you can definitely see it,” said Janis Bunchman, principal at Frisco Elementary.

Providing full-day kindergarten at all schools would benefit the district as a whole, as it would better prepare students for success, said Bill Pelham, school board president.

“Not only do we need to be fair to the kids, we need to be fair to the taxpayers,” said Summit Cove parent Siri Olsen, noting that it isn’t fair for parents of children at Summit Cove and Upper Blue to know that their taxes are paying for other children to attend the full-day program.

School officials agreed they want to make full-day kindergarten available at all schools and to all parents – even those who can’t afford it – though it may mean cutting back from other school programs.

Spampinato said she and Dan Huenneke, the district’s director of business services, will put together several financial scenarios which would make it possible to add the program at Summit Cove and Upper Blue next year and bring them back for the board to review.

“I think that you can count on the fact that we’ll bring it back and we won’t let it die,” Spampinato said.

Lu Snyder can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 203, or lsnyder@summitdaily.com.

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