Local districts say full-day kindergarten showing benefits

  • Raelyn Morrissey, a kindergarten student in Taylor McArdle’s class at Lyndeborough Central School, works with shapes and colors during class. Staff photo by Ben Conant

  • Anson Wentworth, a kindergarten student in Taylor McArdle’s class at Lyndeborough Central School, works on an art project. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • Leila Bossie, a kindergarten student in Taylor McArdle’s class at Lyndeborough Central School. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • Kindergarten teach Taylor McArdle helps a student during class at Lyndeborough Central School. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • Kindergarten students at Lyndeborough Central School, March 7, 2019. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • Kindergarten students at Lyndeborough Central School, March 7, 2019. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • Kindergarten students at Lyndeborough Central School, March 7, 2019. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • Koryn Blais, Raelyn Morrissey, and Miriam Meltzer, kindergarten students in Taylor McArdle’s class at Lyndeborough Central School. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • Koryn Blais, Raelyn Morrissey, and Miriam Meltzer, kindergarten students in Taylor McArdle’s class at Lyndeborough Central School. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • Kindergarten students at Lyndeborough Central School, March 7, 2019. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 3/11/2019 9:09:49 PM

School districts that implemented full-day kindergarten for the first time in 2018 are now seeing the benefit, with children more prepared for the first grade than their counterparts last year.

The Wilton-Lyndeborough Cooperative School District saw a big bump in their kindergarten population after adopting a full-day program, enough for an additional class, according to Lyndeborough Central School Principal Tim O’Connell.

Typically, O’Connell said, the district sees an increase in class population moving from the kindergarten to first grade, as parents who either opted not to send their child to kindergarten or who sent them out of district for kindergarten enrolled them in the public school system. Last year, when the kindergarten was half-day, the program had about 40 children. This year, there are 57.

“I don’t know what this next year will bring, but hopefully the success of the program will continue to bring in kids,” O’Connell said.

Kristen Kivela, principal of Mason Elementary School and superintendent of the Mason School District, said Mason didn’t see a large increase in the kindergarten population when they also implemented full-day kindergarten last year. However, she said, the district is much smaller, with only about 10 to 12 children per class, and there have been at least one or two cases each year where parents opted for an out-of-district full-day kindergarten.

“There were parents who told me they wouldn’t have been able to enroll their child if we didn’t have full-day, and I do think we’ve been able to catch those people,” Kivela said.

And those children are nearing the end of the school year are more prepared for first grade.

Wilton-Lyndeborough assesses the progress of its kindergarteners once every two months. According to the statistical comparison of the January assessments last year versus this year, more students are ready to read, and fewer need a high amount of intervention.

According to assessments, 58 percent of Wilton-Lyndeborough kindergarteners are about the national benchmarks for their age, compared to 36 percent last year.

The percentage of students needing intervention have dropped in the district. Students needing “urgent interventions” dropped from 7 percent to 2 percent, and those needing intervention dropped from 34 percent to 27 percent.

Kivela said Mason students, too, are in a better position to enter the first grade, and meeting suggested milestones at a higher frequency than previous years.

“Most of our kids are way further ahead, at this point,” she said. “Most of our kids are ready for the first grade, which isn’t always the case. The teacher feels she’s getting through so much more, and she’s much further ahead in the curriculum.”

“With a half-day program, kindergarten standards were difficult to reach. With full-time, it’s definitely a more realistic goal for us. All academic areas are impacted by that increase in time,” O’Connell said. “We’re noticing an increase in achievement and readiness.”

Doubling instruction time has also allowed for more targeted intervention, Kivela said. Previously, if a student was struggling, it was difficult to find time to review with them individually.

“There’s much more time for Title I intervention for the children who need it,” Kivela said.

KENO funding projections fail to meet the mark

Both Mason and Wilton-Lyndeborough adopted kindergarten last year after the state promised additional funding for full-day kindergarten students.

While the state pays $3,600 per grade-school student to school districts, prior to last year, kindergarten students were funded at half that rate, at about $1,800 per student.

An initiative passed in 2017 would give full-day kindergarten programs an additional $1,100 per student. Part of those funds were intended to come from revenues from establishments adopting the lottery game KENO.

If KENO games generated more revenue than projected, kindergarten programs would reap those benefits.

But so far, KENO revenue is actually far below what would be needed to cover the additional $1,100.

In order to completely cover the additional kindergarten funding, KENO would have needed to bring in $11 million in net profits. What it actually brought in was $1.5 million in its first year, and $2.3 million in its second, according to the Concord Monitor.

While kindergarten programs are still guaranteed to get the promised additional $1,100 funding per child, the shortfall means they won’t be getting more than that, at least this year.

Individual communities must adopt a measure allowing KENO games to be played in their municipality. Last year, Jaffrey and Wilton approved allowing KENO in town, and this year, Rindge and Greenville have warrant articles asking to approve the use of KENO in town limits at businesses with valid pouring licenses.

A Democratic-sponsored bill proposed in the state Senate this year has proposed using KENO funds for school building aid, instead of contributing to the Education Trust Fund, which pays for kindergarten grants.

Ashley Saari can be reached at 924-7172 ext. 244 or asaari@ledgertranscript.com. She’s on Twitter @AshleySaariMLT.


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