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Going to all-day

Mich. legislation spurs change in kindergarten classes

April 17, 2012
By KURT HAUGLIE - DMG writer ( , The Daily Mining Gazette

CHASSELL - Chassell Township Schools has had all-day kindergarten for about 10 years, and George Stockero said it's worked out well for the district.

Stockero, who is superintendent and K-12 principal for the district, said a teacher suggested going to all-day kindergarten might be a good idea.

"She said parents requested if we could consider it," he said.

Article Photos

Kurt Hauglie/Daily Mining Gazette
Melanie Nieuwenhuis, Lake Linden-Hubbell Public Schools paraprofessional, holds Isiah Ingram April 10, who was celebrating his sixth birthday in Erin Carlson’s kindergarten class. Carlson said she doesn’t think the change will be too difficult on herself or students when the district goes to all-day kindergarten for the 2012-13 school year.

The district's kindergarten teachers also thought all-day kindergarten would be a good idea, Stockero said, which was influential in the board of education's decision to make the change.

"It was kind of a combination of parent and teacher driven," he said.

Last year, Gov. Rick Snyder passed legislation requiring school districts in the state to switch to all-day kindergarten in order to get full state funding for their kindergarten students. The boards of education and superintendents in the state are now going through the process of deciding if they should make the switch to all-day kindergarten, if they don't already have it.

Stockero said most parents in the district want all-day kindergarten, and the few children who may go half day don't stay at half day.

"I have never had a child go all year at half day," he said.

Craig Sundblad, superintendent and K-12 principal at Lake Linden-Hubbell Public Schools, said the district's board of education in March decided to go to all-day kindergarten for the 2012-13 school year.

A cost analysis of making the change or staying at half day was done before making the decision to change, Sundblad said.

"A lot of it was money," he said.

There will be a cost for the district to make the change to all-day kindergarten, Sundblad said.

"Most likely we'll have to have a second teacher," he said.

Some kindergarten students already spend the full day at the school because they do both kindergarten classes and day care, Sundblad said. Only three of the 47 kindergarten students in the district now actually are in school for a half day.

"Looking at that, (all-day kindergarten) is what our parents want," he said.

Sundblad said other than possibly hiring another teacher, the district should incur slight extra expense for some equipment and supplies. There is enough room in the elementary school building to accommodate two full-day kindergarten classes.

So far, Sundblad said he's heard from only one parent who wants to stay at half-day kindergarten, but with the switch, all students will have to go all day.

During its deliberations about going to all-day kindergarten, Sundblad said the board of education considered a combination of half day and all day, but rejected it.

"It just doesn't appear that would be what was needed or wanted," he said.

When the switch is made next year, Sundblad said there will be two kindergarten classes running concurrently.

Sundblad said next year, the first year of all-day kindergarten will be a sort of test of the concept.

"We can evaluate it if it's not working," he said. "I can't see that it's not going to work."

The all-day kindergarten could be dropped if it doesn't work, Sundblad said, despite the fact the district would lose some state funding.

"Our education for our students is more important than money," he said.

Erin Carlson, LL-H kindergarten teacher, said she's been teaching for nine years, and she realizes things will be different with all-day kindergarten.

"I think it's going to be an adjustment," she said. "I'm really excited, though."

With half-day kindergarten, Carlson said she sometimes thinks she isn't teaching as much as she should.

She will have to find more things to do with the children to fill the day, Carlson said.

"We have to be creative," she said. "I don't think it's going to be a huge challenge."

With all-day classes, Carlson said children will have more time to socialize, which is also important.

"That's part of kindergarten," she said.

Because so many of her students already are at the school all day because of day care and class, Carlson said the change probably won't be noticed by them.

"I think the kids are ready," she said.

The Houghton-Portage Township School District Board of Education has made the change to all-day kindergarten next school year as of Monday, according to Superintendent Doreen L. Klingbeil.

Kindergarten registration for next year has started already, Klingbeil said.

"We are offering all-day kindergarten for fall 2012," she said.

All-day kindergarten is not a new concept in the district, Klingbeil said.

"Over the past 10 years, there's been a strong interest in all-day kindergarten on the part of the parents," she said. "I knew when we did offer it, it was going to be a popular choice for parents."

Many parents want the all-day kindergarten because they need to find day care for their children, anyway, Klingbeil said. The district has offered day care for eight years.

There will be extra costs to the district to make the change to all-day kindergarten, Klingbeil said.

"We will have to hire teachers to accommodate the students," she said.

Extra equipment purchases will have to be made, also.

"We're prepared to do that as well," she said.

Klingbeil said there is also the possibility the district could offer a combination of half-day and all-day kindergarten.

"We're open to what the community needs are," she said. "We're excited about offering the opportunity."



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