After discussing many , the Belmont-Redwood Shores School District board members unanimously agreed to implement the Transitional Kindergarten (TK) program next year.
Before the voting took place, trustee Charles Velschow wanted to know how nearby school districts voted on TK programs.
"Pretty much everyone has gone yes," said Suzanne Roy, Assistant Superintendent of Educational Services and Personnel.
"So we would be the ones to get sued," Velschow asked his fellow board members. The debate continued as trustee Andrew Stulbarg clarified that the school district could only be sued by a parent over the issue of transitional kindergarten, a scenario he deemed unlikely.
According to Roy the law is clear and transitional kindergarten is non-negotiable. Stulbarg, however, said the law was nebulous and that the estimated cost of the TK program would be put to better use elsewhere.
"It's $81,000 that we need. The law is not truly definitive about whether or not we have to have the program, so I'll be the one to respectfully decent and say I don't think we should," Stulbarg said.
The amount of investment required to run a TK program is a point of contention for California State Sen. Joe Simitian, who authored SB 1381 and . While Simitian maintains that schools simply need to redistribute existing resources, the BRSSD estimates the need for an additional teacher and classroom to support the program.
Twenty children have enrolled in the program since the California Department of Education issued the mandate for TK within SB 1381, also known as The Kindergarten Readiness Act. Transitional kindergarten is designed for children who turn five in October, November or December and are not quite ready for traditional kindergarten (see details below).
In the end, every member of the board voted for the continuation of the transitional kindergarten program, but not before board president Brian Matthews expressed his thoughts. "It is costing us money. They can say that it's not but it is. It's just another unfunded mandate," he said. "But we should also say that it is a quality cirriculum," Matthews added, "so children will be helped."
Specific Cut-Off Dates for Kindergarten as Outlined in SB 1381
A child shall be admitted to a kindergarten maintained by the school district at the beginning of a school year, or at a later time in the same year if the child will have his or her fifth birthday on or before one of the following dates:
For the 2011–12 school year the date is December 2
For the 2012–13 school year the date is November 1
For the 2013–14 school year the date is October 1
For the 2014–15 school year and each school year thereafter the date is September 1.