Woodville Elementary launches transitional kindergarten program

01.10.2012 | The Porterville Recorder | Denise Madrid

Gov. Jerry Brown’s proposal to permanently eliminate funds for a state-mandated Transitional Kindergarten program doesn’t disconcert Woodville Elementary School Superintendent Dago Garcia.

Transitional kindergarten is a new grade, created by Senate Bill 1381, also known as the Kindergarten Readiness Act. The law, singed in 2010 by then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, changed the required birthday for admission to kindergarten and first grade and established the program beginning in the 2012-2013 school year.

By axing the funds, Brown seeks to reach a cost avoidance of $223.7 million, savings that would be used to support existing education programs.

Although school districts statewide must introduce transitional kindergarten by the fall of 2012; the small, rural school launched its program on Monday to get a head start.

“We’re going to have to face the music and prioritize,” Garcia said about Brown’s proposal. “If we have to cut some other places, we will, but TK (transitional kindergarten) is not going away.”

On Monday, transitional kindergarten teacher Yesenia Martinez got her class of 16 students acquainted with basic classroom procedures, from how to sit properly to how to ask for permission to use the bathroom.

As the school-day drew to an end, Martinez, who was previously a kindergarten teacher at the school, was thrilled.

“She said, ‘This is awesome. When they start kindergarten we’re going to get down to teaching and not have to focus on routines, behaviors and expectations,’” Garcia said.

According to Garcia, the transitional kindergarten program will use a modified kindergarten curriculum that is age and developmentally appropriate.

“The curriculum is going to be aligned with the kindergarten curriculum, which is going to up the kindergarten standard — the academic performance is going to significantly impact our school,” he said.

But to reach those goals, Garcia said the school will need to allocate funds for the purchase of additional curriculum.

Aside from curriculum, Garcia said the district faces other financial challenges with the implementation of the new program.

The school will need to provide funding for new furniture, materials, training, a teacher’s salary, and possibly a teacher’s aide’s salary, with only the help of state funds that are based on daily attendance, Garcia said.

Additionally, the school will need to make subtle changes to accommodate children with transportation and basic amenities such as bathrooms and water fountains.

“Right now, the only cost we’ve incurred has been the hiring of a sub-teacher,” he added.

But Garcia said it’s a small investment when one considers the educational benefits.

“We are providing kids with a very healthy environment. We’re taking kids who would otherwise be at home doing nothing and giving them an education,” he said.

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