Archive for Wednesday, October 15, 2008

All-day kindergarten pilot successful, B-L officials say

October 15, 2008

Kindergartners at Linwood Elementary School are reaping the benefits of the Basehor-Linwood School District’s all-day kindergarten pilot, officials say.

The pilot began at LES at the beginning of the 2008-2009 school year as a way for the district to test the concept of all-day kindergarten in the hopes of gradually introducing it to the rest of the district elementary schools.

LES principal Cindy Hiebert and LES kindergarten teacher Kay Gordon presented an update on the pilot Monday night to school board members.

“Lengthening of the school day is only one component of the kindergarten experience,” Hiebert said. “A full day allows academic and behavioral benefits that will extend into future years.”

Along with thanking the board for supporting the pilot, Hiebert added that several studies have shown Kindergartners who attend school all day exhibit more independent learning and classroom involvement, are more likely to approach the teacher as well as express less withdrawal, anger and shyness.

Parents of students eligible for the pilot have almost fully embraced the program, with 18 out of 19 students attending all day, five days a week and one student attending three days a week.

Gordon said one of the first challenges she came across was balancing the students’ physical needs with their academic needs.

“I knew they were young, so I had to keep that in mind,” she said.

The introduction of rest time right after lunch is something that has helped with their physical needs, she said. While students were nodding off to sleep during rest time at the beginning, Gordon said things have been getting better.

“In the beginning it was really tough,” she said. “I could sense it with their bodies, but now it’s like they’ve been doing it for a long time.”

One comment Gordon and Hiebert said they received from parents was that children seemed completely wiped out after school. However, a concerned parent recently came into the class to observe and Gordon said she seemed satisfied with what she saw.

“I’m working on pace and rhythm all the time,” Gordon said. “It’s been an ongoing revelation. Finding that rhythm and capturing their attention has been the hardest thing.”

Focusing on a balanced reading approach, including manipulation of sounds and phonological recognition, is something Gordon is working on with the students. With experience as a first-grade teacher and seeing children not know how to read and write at that level, Gordon said she also has the kindergartners write each day. Along with the reading and writing lessons in the continuing school year and future years, Gordon said she would also like to bring about more units and themes with the class.

In talking with the school’s reading specialist, Hiebert said there has been a marked improvement in the students’ achievement this year.

“The gains the students have made have been phenomenal in five weeks,” she said. “Moreso than in past years.”

The goal is to offer all-day kindergarten at Glenwood Ridge Elementary School next school year, when the addition to the school is complete, and at Basehor Elementary School the following year, when construction on the new intermediate school has been completed.

“Our vision is that as space becomes available, we will do this throughout the district,” Superintendent Bob Albers said. “We hope to have it ready by fall of 2009, but I know that’s going to be tricky.”

Action items:

• Approved, 7-0, fencing for the baseball and softball fields at $19,514.40 and $17,827.20 respectively.

• Approved, 5-2, with Gary Johnson and Dayna Miller opposed, the purchase of batting cages at $16,000.

• Approved, 7-0, the Basehor-Linwood High School band trip to Winter Park, Colo.

• Approved, 7-0, the high school eligibility policy.

• Approved, 7-0, classified evaluation instrument.

• Approved, 7-0, BOE policy GBRGB — tutoring for pay.

• Approved, 7-0, BOE policy changes in chapters A-G.

• Approved, 7-0, the appointments of Wynne Coleman, BLHS receptionist, Robin Runnels, BES teacher’s aide, William Price, ground maintenance and Emily Simpson, BLHS JV cheerleading coach; the resignation of Larry Trout, custodian, and an extended leave of absence for Amanda Ellis, Basehor-Linwood Middle School math.

• Approved, 7-0, bids and contract for sanitary sewer plan from McCorkendale Construction at $367,017.50.

• Met in executive session for 15 minutes to discuss non-elected personnel.

• Approved, 7-0, a settlement agreement and release.

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