Buchanan lays groundwork for all-day kindergartenPublished 9:47pm Wednesday, February 15, 2012
BUCHANAN — Full-day kindergarten is likely on the way in Buchanan.
But not necessarily by choice.
Gov. Rick Snyder’s budget proposal calls to cut funding in half for districts clinging to half-day kindergarten. For Buchanan, that would have meant going from $6,800 per student to $3,400 per student, according to Supt. Andrea van der Laan.
The district is now poised to make the switch, she said.
“We have been talking about it for a while,” van der Laan said. “We’ve been watching closely what’s happening in the Legislature for a while.”
The board of education will vote on whether to officially go to full-day kindergarten in March or April.
Van der Laan is unsure exactly how much it will cost the district to make the switch but said it will be worth it to avoid having its state funding slashed in half. The district had earmarked about $200,000 in the budget for the possibility of making the transition.
“We thought we’d have to move in that direction,” she said.
The district may have to hire another three teachers to handle full-day kindergarten, plus start-up costs of materials and extra desks, van der Laan said. So the district is likely to lose money on the switch.
Overall, van der Laan said full-day kindergarten is a good thing for the state.
“I’ve watched curriculum over the last few years. What we used to teach in first grade is now kindergarten,” she said. “So it’s tough to cram it all into two and a half hours. This will allow for more hands-on activities, get out in the fresh air more and have down time between lessons.”
Niles and Brandywine school districts switched to full-day kindergarten this year. Dowagiac Union Schools and Edwardsburg Public schools went all-day in 2010.