Sat04192014

Schools

LASD board votes to move forward with extended-day kindergarten


full-day kindergarten program at Gardner Bullis School enjoy playtime on the blacktop. The Los Altos School District voted to add the program at all elementary schools.Ellie Van HOutte/Town Crier

The Los Altos School District Board of Trustees Oct. 28 unanimously approved offering an extended-day kindergarten program at all elementary campuses next year. The district did not eliminate the option for a half-day program, allowing parents to select either model.

Details of the program are still under design, but district officials required a decision in time for the December Kindergarten Information Nights.

The title of the program is “extended-day” as opposed to “full-day.”

“It became clear that the term ‘full-day’ is a bit misleading,” said Nancy Davis, assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction. “We in no way want to implement a full-day experience. We want kindergartners to thrive. We are always coming back to what is most appropriate for our 4-, 5- and 6-year-olds.”

Davis explained that the majority of incoming parents prefer an extended-day program, and that is one of the reasons the district opted to move ahead with the proposal now.

After comparing data on the outcomes of in-district students who participated in the district’s full-day program versus those in the half-day program, the differences proved insignificant, Davis said. The data don’t support one method over the other.

On that basis, she recommended that the district approve an extended-day program at all schools next year.

“Programmatic details would be designed with input from teachers, administrators and parents,” Davis said. “We are really thinking about what is an exceptional kindergarten program that we could build into a successful kindergarten model.”

Public input supported such an approach to the kindergarten program.

“I think, talking with our friends, it appears this age group is wanting social interaction longer,” said Tara Bhat, a Loyola School parent. “We don’t want to cram more curriculum into it, but additional social experience would be great. I think with a little longer day, more self-directed learning can happen.”

Trustees favored allowing parents to determine whether a half-day or extended-day program was more appropriate for their children.

“Every kid needs something different,” said Trustee Pablo Luther. “Some kids are very strongly for one or the other. With this type of program (a hybrid), we can fulfill both. On the financial side, if there were any time for this to be financially appropriate, I think this is the time.”

Trustees instructed staff to move forward with developing an extended-day program. Board President Doug Smith wants the extended-day program to remain on the agenda so that trustees receive updates on the progress of the program design.

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