By Alejandro Dominguez Herald Writer
MONROE — Becky Springer had concerns when the Monroe School Board changed the kindergarten schedule.
About one year ago, the school board moved to a full-day kindergarten every other day, instead of offering a half-day every day. The decision was made so the district could save about $120,000 annually in busing costs.
Some parents at the time worried their children would have a hard time adjusting to the unusual school schedule.
Although Springer favored the change, she also had reservations.
“My main concern was the lack of consistency,” said Springer, whose son, 6-year-old Blake, started kindergarten at Chain Lake Elementary School last fall.
As Springer feared, Blake had a hard time adjusting at the beginning of the year.
“Every day he woke up and asked if it was a school day,” she said. He knew his older sisters, in second and fourth grade, went to school every day.
“It definitely took longer for Blake to get into the routine.”
That has changed, she said. And she believes he will be ready to go every day to school when he starts first grade.
And now, the Monroe School District aims to expand and add to the kindergarten program to give parents more options.
Blake’s story is not unique. The Monroe School District polled parents and learned kids took longer to adjust but they eventually did, over time.
Still, only 12 of 79 parents who responded to a survey said they liked the alternative method. Even so, most of the parents felt their kindergartners were doing well academically and socially, according to the same survey.
There’s not enough information to know if the children have been affected academically, but teachers and the district say the students are currently on the same level as a year ago.
Another difference is that there were fewer kids in this year’s kindergarten class who had gone to preschool.
To address this, the district is planning a partnership with the YMCA in Monroe to start a pilot program this summer so more kids can prepare for kindergarten.
It is also starting a new dual language program next school year at Frank Wagner Elementary School.
This program would offer half-day classes in English and the other half in Spanish, so all children can learn a second language. Parents have already shown interest in this program with two classes full and others signed up on a waiting list, district’s spokeswoman Rosemary O’Neil said.
The district expects to continue the alternative day model, where kids go to kindergarten two days of each week, and Friday every other week.
They can also enroll them for a half-day program, as long as the parents are able to provide transportation. Parents can also choose a full-day every day, but need to pay between $1,450 and $2,728 in tuition.
Some parents had these two options last year, but there was not enough interest to fill a classroom, O’Neil said.
“We provide alternatives, but not all schools provide enough space to provide all of them,” she said.
Chain Lake kindergarten teacher Rita Humphries had reservations about changing the model last year. She did notice that it took longer to set the kids to a routine. She adjusted the school work and did not increase homework. Now, her two classes are at the same level as in previous years.
“They love school and that’s very important to me,” Humphries said.
Alejandro Dominguez: 425-339-3422; adominguez@ heraldnet.com.
How to enroll
Parents can enroll their children into kindergarten at any elementary school. The deadline to register is April 13.
Parents who want another school than the one nearest to them must ask for a transfer before April 1.
A community meeting is planned to discuss the creation of a Montessori program at Maltby Elementary School. The meeting is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. April 10, at the school’s library, 9700 212th St. SE, Snohomish.