District looking into full-day kindergarten, new elementary school

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By Remington Vaughan, Staff Reporter At the Oct. 10 school board education committee meeting, Dr. Wendy Towle revisited a familiar topic: whether the district should move to full-day kindergarten. Towle, the District Director of Curriculum, Instruction, Staff Development and Planning has spearheaded the effort to push TESD in the direction of replacing half-day kindergarten with...

By Remington Vaughan, Staff Reporter

At the Oct. 10 school board education committee meeting, Dr. Wendy Towle revisited a familiar topic: whether the district should move to full-day kindergarten.

Towle, the District Director of Curriculum, Instruction, Staff Development and Planning has spearheaded the effort to push TESD in the direction of replacing half-day kindergarten with a full-day program.

434 of the 500 Pennsylvania public school districts currently run a full-day kindergarten program. Thirty-four more of those districts offer a full-day program on an individual basis to students with an Individualized Education Program or who are English Language Learners, including T/E.

Evidence points toward a full-day kindergarten program having many positive benefits on early childhood development. 

“There’s been some research that suggests that students who are in a full-day program have a better overall feeling about being in school and sense of belonging because you’re not as rushed, so you can take more time and dive into things,” Towle said.

The benefits of a full school day for kindergarteners extend to academics as well. According to research conducted by the National Center for Education Statistics, “Numerous large-scale national studies have shown that all students attending full-day kindergarten make greater gains in literacy and math skills than their half-day counterparts.”

New Eagle Elementary School kindergarten teacher Alison Troy believes having more time in the classroom would positively influence student relationships and social skills.

“The full-day program really allows the kids more time to work in all the areas of the curriculum (but also) fine motor skills and those formings of friendships.”

Some district parents, most of whom belong to two-income households, are in support of a full-day program that would better coincide with family schedules.

“It would support parents’ work schedules and save parents money on aftercare and activities to fill the day,” said kindergarten parent Marsha Bierly.

However, this isn’t the first time the school district has taken a full-day program into consideration.

“I have been an administrator for a little over 15 years now, and during that time this is the third time we revisited this idea of full-day kindergarten,” Towle said.

Parents and teachers both have shown interest in the program according to Towle, but a major barrier stands in the way: a lack of adequate classroom space within the current elementary schools.

The district has considered many solutions to the increasing enrollment within the district, including expanding current facilities, redistricting the elementary schools or simply building a sixth elementary school.

The addition of a new school will also provide a solution to the debate about a full-day kindergarten program. The building would be complete with rooms equipped to handle a bigger class of kindergarten students all at one time throughout the day. This would also free up classroom space in other elementary schools to better utilize the smaller rooms for full-day kindergarten.

However, none of these possible changes have the green light yet.

“The school board has made no decisions about a new elementary school or full-day kindergarten,” Towle said. “There will be a lot more discussion and public input before either of these decisions (are) made.”


Remington Vaughan can be reached at [email protected]

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