Park City plans to implement all-day kindergarten | ParkRecord.com

Park City plans to implement all-day kindergarten

The Park City School District is beginning the process of implementing all-day kindergarten for all students in the coming school years.

Ember Conley, superintendent, said getting a plan in place of how to make the switch will be one of the district’s priorities as it begins 2015. The goal is to offer all-day kindergarten beginning in the 2016-2017 school year.

"We really want to look at our curriculum and plan correctly with our teachers," Conley said. "I would do it this next year, but for us to do it right and have everything in place, I’d like to take the rest of this year and all of next year to have it ready to go for the following year."

The main benefit of kindergarten that lasts a full school day is narrowing the achievement gap, Conley said. Studies have shown that normal students enter kindergarten with a vocabulary of around 2,000 words, while that of underperforming students is around 600. All-day kindergarten diminishes much or all of that discrepancy by the end of the school year.

"If you want to close your achievement gap, you offer all-day kindergarten," Conley said. "It’s proven, it’s research-based and I’ve seen it from experience. The students that come in who do not have the strong vocabulary base, whether they’re speaking another language or not, all-day kindergarten is proven to expand that so they don’t continue to get behind."

Conley said the current plan is to not raise the district’s budget to make the change but rather restructure resources.

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The potential change was set to be a topic of discussion in the Park City Board of Education’s work retreat Tuesday. Though the board does not have the power to implement or block the change — unless the district budget ends up being altered by it — Conley said she is optimistic the board is excited about the prospect of all-day kindergarten.

"It’s always good to have their understanding and their approval," Conley said. "I would never want to do anything they were totally against."

According to the district’s website, pcschools.us, an extended kindergarten program is currently offered for $3,900 a year, though spots are limited.

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