Something to watch at tonight’s school board meeting, as mentioned by a potential Transitional Kindergarten student’s parent , depending on how the Governor’s budget shakes out, Transitional Kindergarten may not be offered for incoming Kindergartners with birthdays between November 1 and December 2. As mentioned by the parent, it appears that if Transitional Kindergarten remains unfunded in the state budget, then AUSD will not offer it next year, leaving a lot of Alameda students in a state of limbo for next year until the state budget is finalized and AUSD can make a decision.
However, in the best case scenario, if Transitional Kindergarten is offered, it appears that AUSD intends to place them at scattered sites — it appears that two classes will probably be the magic number — and not at all neighborhood schools. In order to maximize funding, it would probably make sense to site as many in Title I schools to be able to collect that money from the Federal government in addition to state money, off the top of my head I would say Paden, Haight, and Washington appear to be good candidates because of capacity.
Just as an aside, a new change in the Kindergartern Round-up process, rather than drop off all paperwork to the neighborhood school, parents will now drop off the packets to the district office. I’m not really sure how I feel about that, given that not all of the packet can be turned in at the same time. In my experience last year, as organized as I was, I had to make drop offs a few times because of the medical and dental paperwork. I remember that the medical and dental paperwork couldn’t be filled out too early or it wouldn’t be accepted. So schlepping down to the district office will definitely not be as convenient as popping in to your neighborhood school.
But back to Transitional Kindergarten, Gilroy Patch has a good summary of what happened with the state budget which has left Transitional Kindergarten in limbo:
…Gov. Brown’s budget proposal puts transitional kindergarten on the chopping block, leaving the placement of these children in limbo.
“Parents and school districts are being held hostage,” says Debra Weller, a kindergarten teacher in attendance at the Jan. 13 press conference held by [State] Senator [Joe] Simitian. “Parents now have to figure out if they want to put down those nonrefundable deposits at preschools or wait it out.”
As for the school districts throughout the state that have already begun the process of planning and coordinating the new program at their campuses, they too are at a crossroads.
“Districts have spent time and money, money that’s hard to come by, to make this a success for children,” she says. “It’s so disheartening that something so good for teachers and students … and now to have the rug pulled out from them.”
According to the released proposed state budget, “a decrease of $223.7 million Proposition 98 General Fund to reflect the elimination of the requirement that schools provide transitional kindergarten beginning 2012-13. These savings will be used to support existing education programs.”
The immediate savings of removing 25 percent of the students from traditional kindergarten (those that are not 5 years old by Sept. 1) go directly into the creation of the TK program to serve these younger students. By removing the $223.7 million from the state budget but implementing the date change for enrollment, the state will be leaving thousands of students either back at home or in preschool and school districts losing 25 percent of their ADA funds for incoming kindergarteners.
The governor’s proposed budget as of Jan. 5 leaves about 125,000 children out of the classroom in 2012, Simitian says.
“This would be the largest displacement of children from public schools in our nation’s history,” he says.