Full-day kindergarten in Eagle Co. needs funds | VailDaily.com

Full-day kindergarten in Eagle Co. needs funds

Matt Terrell
Vail, CO Colorado
Dominique Taylor/Vail DailyKindergartner Jake Sturde thinks carefully about the sentence he is writing in Erika Donahue's kindergarten class Friday at Edwards Elementary School.

EAGLE COUNTY, Colorado ” If parents want to keep all-day kindergarten in public schools, which teachers say is critical to a child’s education, they might have to approve a bond question in the near future.

The Vail Valley Foundation currently pays for about half the costs of all-day kindergarten in Eagle County School District, but that funding will end after the 2008-2009 school year. That means the school district will either have to find that extra money on its own or luck out big time with state legislators

The state, which only pays for half-day kindergarten, is starting to see need for seven-hours of school a day and is seriously considering picking up the bill, or at least some of it, said Heather Eberts, director of elementary education for the school district.

Lawmakers are now sifting through studies and surveys, and the school district is patiently waiting to see how much money will come through.

That state funding will determine how much money, if any, Eagle County Schools will ask from voters, Eberts said.

At the age of 5, kids are the most sponge-like they’ll ever be in school. They can soak up more information than you could imagine, and ending kindergarten at noon would mean they’re missing out on a lot of learning.

“They build those synapses in their brain when they’re young, and we believe by having them in kindergarten for a full day, we can take advantage of that,” Eberts said.

Aside from those basic building blocks of reading, writing and math, kids are also learning social skills that will last a lifetime. Things as basic as sitting in a circle, sharing, and working with other kids have to be practiced and learned to become a part of their lifestyle, Eberts said.

Erika Donahue, a kindergarten teacher at Edwards Elementary, says all-day kindergarten is also important because at that age, kids like school and want to be in school.

“They like the consistency and they thrive on the routine. Their days and weeks are predictable. They know what to expect from a school day, which is not always the case in ‘real life,'” Donahue said.

Dana Maurer, a parent of a kindergartner at Edwards Elementary, says she sees all-day kindergarten as a way to level the playing field for students who weren’t able to attend a quality pre school.

“This is a great step that our district takes in reducing the achievement gap earlier in our student’s school career,” Maurer said.

Staff Writer Matt Terrell can be reached at 748-2955 or mterrell@vaildaily.com.

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