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Published: Thursday, 1/29/2004

Archbold, Wauseon: Expanded K-classes considered

BY RACHEL ZINN
BLADE STAFF WRITER

The Archbold and Wauseon school districts are considering a switch to holding all-day kindergarten classes every weekday.

The Archbold schools have a half-day program, and Wauseon kindergartners attend class half a day on Monday and then all day on alternate days for the rest of the week.

Elementary school faculty members in Archbold have researched the issue and plan to get input from parents and community members, elementary principal Jim Selgo said.

“A lot of the interest has been prompted by No Child Left behind, which moved high-stakes testing up to third grade,” he said. “Our teachers are feeling like they do not have enough time to get everything done in a half-day setting.”

No Child Left Behind is a 2002 law, led by President George Bush, that aims to ensure every child can read and do math at grade level within the next 10 years.

Carolyn Leggett, principal of Wauseon s Leggett Street Primary School, is preparing a report on the feasibility of all-day, every day kindergarten in that district.

Wauseon Superintendent Marc Robinson said he hopes to have the report within the next six weeks, and will then seek community input on its findings.

“We in this district are supportive, and perhaps in favor, of all-day, every day kindergarten,” he said, explaining that limited classroom space and staff members are the district s main obstacles.

Swanton schools, which have the same alternating schedule as Wauseon, have no plans to change their classes. Pettisville is also sticking with its half-day kindergarten program.

Several Fulton County districts have daylong kindergarten programs. Gorham Fayette instituted all-day, every day kindergarten classes two years ago. Pike-Delta-York and Evergreen started programs last school year.

Russell Griggs, the former Evergreen superintendent who now leads Pike-Delta-York district, said he has gotten good feedback on all-day kindergarten from parents and teachers. He said several parents from other districts enrolled their children in Pike-Delta-York classes because they want all-day sessions.

“All-day, every day kindergarten is always a great program. It s more time on task,” Mr. Griggs said. “The students get more acclimated to school going through all the routines during the day.”

For Archbold officials, the next step is to get input from parents and residents on the possibility of all-day kindergarten. Mr. Selgo said the district would likely hold community forums or conduct a survey.

He said kindergarten costs would almost certainly increase if the classes lasted all day because additional supplies and staff would be needed. However, the district might see some savings on transportation because mid-day buses would no longer be necessary.

The school board would have to vote on the issue before all-day kindergarten could begin.

Longtime Archbold kindergarten teacher Susan Neff said she hopes classes will be extended. She said stricter state and federal standards require that she does more academic work with her students than in prior years.

“I just feel like I m not letting the children be five-year-olds with all the stuff we have to get in. We don t have time for songs or games or just enjoying each other,” she said. “I think we have the space for all-day kindergarten, and I hope we have the community s support.”



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