All-Day Kindergarten? Exploratory Task Force Forming

by | Apr 24, 2014

More than once, during the School Committee’s two-year-long debate over providing computer devices for every high school student, member Deidre Gifford asked how the so-called “1-to-1” program was being addressed before other such issues as full-day kindergarten.

Each time, Committee Chair David Green and member Jack Sommer said it wasn’t an either-or proposition, but rather just a question of timing.

It seems the time may now be right, to at least explore the topic.

The School Department is setting up a committee to study the feasibility of all-day  kindergarten in East Greenwich.

“The charge of this committee is to determine the feasibility of implementing and sustaining an all day kindergarten program at Frenchtown and Meadowbrook elementary schools beginning at the earliest in the 2015-16 school year to the extent that said feasibility is cost effective and sensitive to the comprehensive fiscal needs of the entire district,” reads the committee’s charge.

The panel will be composed of 8 to 10 people, including school administrators, teachers (at least one a current kindergarten teacher), parents (none with a child who would enter kindergarten in 2015-16), and School Committee members.

In the 2013-14 school year, 22 school districts, charter and state-run schools in Rhode Island offer “universal” full-day kindergarten – all kindergarten students go for the full day. That’s 70 percent of all kindergarten students in the state, compared with 18 percent in 1999-2000. Nationwide, the rate of full-day kindergarten is 77 percent, according to the 2014 Rhode Island Kids Count Factbook.

The increase in full-day kindergarten has been fueled by research pointing to its benefits.

According to the 2014 Rhode Island Kids Count Factbook, “Children in full-day kindergarten make significant gains in early reading, math, and social skills as compared with children in half-day kindergarten.”

In East Greenwich, 25 students out of 165 kindergarteners go to school for the full day, most of those students with special needs. The rest of the EG kindergarteners attend school for either a morning or an afternoon session.

The state is helping four districts establish all-day kindergarten programs next year through the Full-Day Kindergarten Accessibility Act – Cranston, Exeter-West Greenwich, Glocester, and Woonsocket.

That will leave Barrington, Coventry, Johnston, Lincoln, Scituate and Tiverton as the only districts to offer no full-day kindergarten at all. Districts like East Greenwich that offer full-day kindergarten on a limited basis include North Kingstown (at 30 percent), Smithfield (8 percent), and Warwick (11 percent).

Applications to serve on the committee are not yet being accepted

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