December 22, 2014

Elyria
Mostly clear
23°F
test

Midview Schools to make kindergarten program free

Patti Dominguez, a kindergarten instructor at Midview West Elementary, teaches her students on Thursday. STEVE MANHEIM/CHRONICLE

Patti Dominguez, a kindergarten instructor at Midview West Elementary, teaches her students on Thursday. STEVE MANHEIM/CHRONICLE

GRAFTON — All-day, every-day kindergarten won’t carry a price tag next year at Midview Schools.

Beginning with the 2014-15 school year, Midview will end tuition for its full-day kindergarten program. Superintendent Scott Goggin said the district was able to come up with a plan to offer the now $2,000-a-year program for free by moving around teachers and resources.

“Basically, we are going to take money we already have and reinvest it in our youngest students,” he said.

Midview will be able to do this without hiring new teachers, Goggin said.

Instead, teachers who are leaving the district through retirement will not be replaced. The savings from those positions will be used to cover the lost tuition.

In addition, by making class sizes slightly bigger in the elementary classes, teachers will be shifted to the kindergarten program.

“It is needed in our district and we are happy to provide this opportunity at no extra cost to the district or community,” Goggin said.

Currently families have to pay tuition to send their child to kindergarten all day, every day.

The district also provides a free all-day, every-other-day kindergarten program, but it can sometimes prove difficult to keep with the schedule when such things as calamity days, holidays and vacations are factored into the calendar.

The sometimes-erratic schedule is hardest on young students who need consistency and repetition to master learning concepts.

“After much careful planning and research, the district determined it would be in the best interest of our students, families and community to use this savings to reinvest in our youngest learners,” Goggin said. “We believe this change will greatly impact our students’ educations from a young age and create more opportunities for growth and development.”

Between 200 and 225 students are expected to enroll in the kindergarten program next year. Those will include at least some of the students who open-enrolled into other districts for kindergarten, which Goggin puts at 20 to 25 students each year.

Amy Higgins, spokeswoman for Elyria Schools, said just six kindergarten students who live in the Midview district are open-enrolled in Elyria.

“Though we don’t know if full-day kindergarten is their reason,” Higgins said.

Patti Dominguez, a kindergarden teacher at Midview West Elementary, teaches class.

Patti Dominguez, a kindergarden teacher at Midview West Elementary, teaches class.

Elyria began offering full-day kindergarten in the 1998-99 school year.

Elyria houses full-day programs at all neighborhood schools except for Oakwood Elementary, which does not have the space. The Elyria Early Education Village on Griswold Road serves as Oakwood’s kindergarten.

All-day, every-day kindergarten is not something that every school district offers, said John Charlton, spokesman for the Ohio Department of Education.

For those that do, it’s either free or tuition-based, which is tied to state and federal funding. The price also varies and can reach into the thousands in some of the more-affluent districts that receive very little in the way of poverty-based funding.

But this year, as districts grapple with the first real test of the state’s Third Grade Reading Guarantee — the state’s requirement that third-grade students read on grade level or be held back — districts are coming up with way to reach students sooner.

Goggin said the additional instructional time afforded by getting every child into an all-day, every-day program will hopefully be reflected in test scores for years to come.

“That extra time is great for those students who are hitting benchmarks and need enhancement as well as those students who need enrichment — they can get more of what they need during the second half of the day,” he said. “With education, everything is connected. When kids are more prepared coming out of kindergarten that puts the first grade teacher in a better position to build on that. It just builds all the way up.”

Contact Lisa Roberson at 329-7121 or lroberson@chroniclet.com. Follow her on Twitter @LisaRobersonCT.