Paul Pratchett selects a car of his choice to write his name on Monday, Aug. 26, during the kindergarten open house at Jeremy Ranch Elementary School.
Paul Pratchett selects a car of his choice to write his name on Monday, Aug. 26, during the kindergarten open house at Jeremy Ranch Elementary School. Students wrote their names on cars to make the teachers aware that they will be picked up by a guardian from school each day. Christopher Reeves/The Park Record
McPolin Elementary School principal Greg Proffit said kindergarten registration is an annual issue in the Park City School District. There is never enough warning regarding the number of students in each kindergarten program at the four elementary schools in the district, and that affects preparation.

"It is important for us to know how many kindergarteners we are going to have so we can budget accordingly and have enough teachers, classrooms, cubbies, tables and other supplies," he said. "That all starts with a good early count."

Abby Funabiki with the Park City Education Foundation said there is a big, district-wide push for kindergarten registration for children turning 5 by Sept. 2 of this year in order for each school to be properly prepared for the children.

There are currently three kindergarten teachers at Trailside Elementary School, two at McPolin, two at Jeremy Ranch and three at Parley's Park, which has received an increase in kindergarten students this year from the previous school year.

Trailside Elementary houses 60 kindergarten students, McPolin has 51, Jeremy Ranch has 57 and Parley's Park has the most at 86 students this year.

Proffit said he is grateful for the push for registration and the fact that deadlines are being pushed up to earlier in the year. This year, "commitment to registration" forms are available at the four elementary schools, and they are due by Friday, Feb. 14.

"Parents can show love for their kindergarteners and have that first form turned in by then," Proffit said. "They don't have to turn in the entire packet by then, but turning in those commitment forms will contribute to generating counts and seeing how many students we will be gaining in the fall."

Trailside Elementary School principal Kathleen Einhorn said she knows it will be difficult for parents to turn in the whole packet right away because of immunizations, so just the first page of the packet is due by Feb. 14.

"Kids have to have their 5-year-old immunizations, and unless the child has turned 5, the pediatricians just won't give them those immunizations until then," Einhorn said. "What we are saying to parents is that we just want an initial count."

Proffit added that the earlier deadline for registration this year will also help parents make sure their children's immunization records are "up to speed," especially now that there has been a change in immunization requirements regarding the interval of the final dose of the polio vaccine.

Once the first page of the packet is filled out front and back and turned in, there will be a kindergarten orientation for parents and their students. Einhorn said it will be held on April 24 at each elementary school, and that is when they will talk to parents about the schools, school procedures, immunizations and other necessary discussions.

Parents will also sign their children up for kindergarten assessments if they are not students in the pre-kindergarten programs at the elementary schools. The tests will assess the children's basic skills, and Einhorn said in the case of Trailside, Jeremy Ranch and now Parley's Park Elementary schools, the scores will determine whether they are eligible for half-day or full-day kindergarten.

"We set a cut off in the scores, and based on that cut off, if children's scores fall below that, they are eligible for full-day kindergarten," Einhorn said. "Sometimes parents choose not to put them in full-day, but it is an option."

The full day option is to help those that fall below the cut off score better learn the basic skills they will need to pass on to first grade. The children that score above will only need to attend the kindergarten class for a half-day.

For those who qualify for the half-day program, there is the Community Education Kinder Connections program that extends the half-day into a full day just like every other elementary school grade classroom.

Judy Tukuafu, Community Education director, said they are currently registering children from the program. The deadlines have been pushed up for Kinder Connections this year as well in order to help parents plan.

"The reason it is earlier this year is because some people have to make arrangements at private programs," she said. "We are trying to find a balance between people making commitments there and the deposits they will need to pay and then our registration."

The program is optional, and the children in it will have a different teacher for the second half of the day. Tukuafu said they follow a curriculum called Interconnections, which extends the day with science, social studies and art.

Literacy and math are the focus in their primary kindergarten classrooms, she said, so there is not enough time in the day for other subjects they will study later on in grade school. To make up for that, Kinder Connections classes focus on the other three subjects.

"Right now, children in Kinder Connections are 'traveling the world,'" Tukuafu said. "They'll 'travel' to Italy and learn what a map is and that people speak another language there, so it's like a social studies unit."

Einhorn said if parents want to put their children in the Kinder Connections program, the sooner they do it the better. The program usually fills up, and it is good to let the Community Education department know how many teachers they will need as well.

Tukuafu said registration will be going on from Feb. 24 through March 7, and the teacher to student ratio is one teacher for every 15 students. If there are more students than that, a teacher aide will be assigned.

Registration packets for kindergarten programs at the elementary schools are currently available at each of the four in the district as well as the Kinder Connections information and registration packets. Proffit said he is hoping parents will take his advice and register as soon as possible.

"It is critical for us to get things up and running," Proffit said. "We don't want there to be any hitches in the process for these families, so we just want to get these bureaucratic requirements out of the way first and get things started."