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Brighton Schools Move to Full-Day Kindergarten, Junior Kindergarten for 2013-14

District parents upset of the decision not to offer half-day programs.

Brighton Area Schools recently confirmed to parents their decision to eliminate half-day kindergarten and junior kindergarten classes in all four elementary schools in Brighton Superintendent Greg Gray's recent Friday Letter.

The letter read:

Kindergarten Planning for 2013-2014: On Wednesday, Laura Surrey met with Hawkins Principal, Pat Meyer and Kindergarten teachers Julee Cowher (Spencer), Nicole McCullough (Hornung), Andrea Spaanstra (Hilton), and Diane Tamblyn (Hawkins) to finalize the Kindergarten information for RoundUp and online enrollment. The district has recently confirmed the decision to offer only full day Kindergarten and full day Junior Kindergarten for the 2013-2014 school year. The group was able to begin the process of articulating the focus of an all day Junior Kindergarten program which holds great promise for stronger social and emotional skills, independence, and stronger literacy and numeracy skills for a successful elementary experience.

Many parents voiced their unhappiness on the Brighton Area Schools' Facebook Page.

Ginger Cox wrote, "So unfortunate about the elimination of half-day kindergarten. I will be enrolling my son elsewhere. There are always options, it's how much effort the district wants to put into looking at alternatives. I don't want to hear that 'this is what all of the other districts are doing'. Just because everyone is doing it, it doesn't make it right."

Jodi Rochowiak commented, "Once again, I am disappointed that BAS seems to making decisions that are not based on what is in the best interest of every child. Surely, BAS must know that all kids are not on the same level of readiness when it comes to kindergarten. While my 6-year-old loves going to school all day, everyday, I am not so sure my 4-year-old will do as well in all day junior kindergarten."

Assistant Superintendent of Instruction Laura Surrey said Brighton was one of the last districts in the area offering half-day kindergarten and junior kindergarten programs.   

"We really liked being able to offer the full menu of options for our families, it's important to us, but the legislature changed how kindergarten was funded now and fiscally it makes no sense for us to continue down that road," Surrey said. "We want to think along the lines of being a deficit district. We just really have to be responsible with the resources we have."

According to Surrey, the state used to have full-day funding for half-day programming. The legislation changed to district's being funded for however long students are there, so half-day programming gets a half-funded.

"From a curriculum standpoint, with the common core, new math and ELA standards being implemented next year, I think it would be irresponsible for us not to have these kids in there all day," Surrey said.

Surrey said by offering full-day junior kindergarten and kindergarten classes, it better prepares students to enter first grade.

"But as I say to people, it's not as if we're going to be running ACT prep all day long for the JK kids," she said. "We're going to let the kids' needs pace us out. I would imagine much of the first semester will be about the emotional and social development."

Kindergarten Round-Ups will be held at Spencer and Hawkins Elementary Schools on March 5 and Hilton and Hornung Elementary Schools on March 6, from 6:30-8 p.m.

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