With kindergarten orientations and preregistrations looming, the Los Altos School District Board of Trustees decided Jan. 14 to continue the full-day kindergarten program, currently run on the Bullis-Purissima School campus in Los Altos Hills.
The board voted 4-0 (Trustee Bill Cooper was absent) to continue offering the full-day kindergarten program on the Bullis-Purissima campus next year. The board has yet to vote on the scope of next year's program and still has not decided on the long-term status of the full-day program in the district.
"We have to respect the fact we need to tell parents what to do with registration," Superintendent Tim Justus said.
Justus asked the board to choose between putting the program on hold for a year and extending the pilot program for another year.
Bullis-Purissima Elementary School, closed in 2003, is scheduled to reopen as a K-6 elementary school in the fall. To continue the full-day kindergarten, a districtwide program, on the campus next year, the district would have to add up to three more portables. The number of required portables depends on the final scope of the program, which the board is scheduled to discuss at a board meeting Monday.
The full-day kindergarten program began in 2005 when results of the initial research in full-day education showed benefits particularly for children from lower socioeconomic backgrounds. Local parents and administrators were interested in how the program could benefit students. The trial program, only offered at the Bullis campus, consists of five classrooms of 20 students each.
The district has two separate committees evaluating the academic, social and financial impact of the program.
"I think long-term, full-day kindergarten is the way to go," said board clerk David Luskin. "It is the trend across the nation and state, and it is in line with the national trend in child development."
The full-day program will be the only kindergarten offered at Bullis next year. Whether there will be a separate class for children who live in the Bullis-Purissima area has not been decided. The current full-day classes are not separated by school attendance areas.
"I think we do have room for full-day kindergartens next year at that particular site," board President Mark Goines said. "I will not favor having the program on that site on a long-term basis."
The popular program has been oversubscribed since it began in 2005. Assistant Superintendent for Instruction and Curriculum Jeff Baier spoke during the discussion about the size of the full-day program next year.
"Going down to three classrooms (for space purposes) – it makes it such a small program for such a choice program," he said. "Proportionately, it just seems like a small offering in comparison with the public demand."
The addition of three more portables would cost approximately $100,000 in capital funds, said Randy Kenyon, assistant superintendent for business services.
Noting a worsening financial environment, Los Altos Hills resident Duncan MacMillan asked the board to define the incremental costs of running the program, a timeline for rolling out the program in the future and projections on future costs. He also said he thinks the neighborhood around the elementary school should have first attendance priority on the campus, and district commitments to full-day program parents should not be confirmed until the 2008-2009 requirements from the neighborhood are better known, possibly by June.
Other board business
â€¢ The board concluded its California Environmental Quality Act study by agreeing to the necessary mitigations and officially adopting the new attendance lines, drawn up at the conclusion of the last school year.
â€¢ The board discussed a possible timeline for bringing a parcel tax and general obligation bond back for a public vote. No action was taken.
â€¢ The board unanimously adopted its revised intra/interdistrict policies. One change is that interdistrict transfer terms may last up to seven years (previously five) when operating within the memorandum of understanding with the Palo Alto Unified School District.
â€¢ Justus updated the board on the search for a new principal for Bullis-Purissima. He said the hiring committee had narrowed the field to four candidates. He plans to recommend a candidate for approval at Monday's board meeting.