The South Summit School District recently approved all- day kindergarten beginning in the fall. To accommodate the change, they’ll be hiring two new teachers.
South Summit Elementary School Principal, Linda Flinders believes the transition to all day kindergarten will assure a more equitable opportunity for all students. She says early literacy is critical for success in life.
“Research has shown that if children are on grade level by the end of first grade, they do not struggle with literacy for the rest of their academic career. Why wouldn't we want to empower students to have that kind of opportunity? Kindergarten is not what it used to be.”
Flinders says the pace of kindergarten is too intense and fast moving for a 5-year old under half day conditions.
“And so, they should have the time to enjoy their school experience. So, have rigorous academics but also enjoy learning how to play and also enjoy resting. Another big part is a support to parents. There are some children who need that extra support, that extra time to read because their parents are working two and three jobs and our main goal is to have kids be OK.”
The school district is already at capacity and the board of education approved a $75 million ballot initiative for November. Superintendent, Shad Sorenson says they have a critical need for the bond to pass.
“Absolutely. And that is the importance of this bond. We often label it as a high school bond but it's really a bond for all students. And it is so critical to be able to shift your bookend, whether it's on the front end or the back end. And so, if the bond passes then it's going to increase capacity at our elementary school."
Currently, only one class is full day with four half day programs. Sorensen says they have some creative ideas to accommodate the additional kindergarten classes next year, but he explains why the bond is so critical to the entire school district.
“For example, the current elementary school that is very overcrowded would become a preK-2 school and it would go from 600 plus students that are there now to 311. So, imagine the opportunities for learning that provides. Assemblies-there will be places for families to be able to sit and enjoy and experience and be part of that school culture.”
Sorensen says they will probably have to bring in portables the year after next because if the bond passes, grade realignment would not happen for another two or three years.