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Full-day kindergarten to be offered at SCES, NMES

During the past two years, full-day kindergarten students at Heth Washington Elementary School were at a proven advantage. This fall, students at New Middletown Elementary and South Central Elementary will also be given the opportunity for greater advancement.
South Harrison Community School Corp. is including full-day kindergarten at all schools, except Corydon Elementary School which was limited by space. This move will require additional teachers. Those will be funded through a portion of the corporation’s riverboat revenue sharing.
‘The commissioners and councilmen both have asked the corporations to begin to look at direct educational programs provided to students via riverboat funding,’ Supt. Neyland Clark said.
He said full-day kindergarten was one such program.
Lora Hayes, formerly the only full-day kindergarten teacher at South Harrison Community School Corp., has seen full-day and half-day students learning side by side, and she knows the difference.
‘The full-day students were far more advanced than my half-day students,’ Hayes said. ‘The half-day students were doing OK, but they could have been doing so much better,’ she said, during the 2002-2003 academic year.
When Hayes’ first group of full-day students entered the first grade, they were more advanced, more attentive and they had less difficulty changing from one subject to the next.
The advantages of full-day kindergarten are widely known. In fact, last year 55 percent of children attending kindergarten did so in a full-day setting, according to a study by the National Center for Education Statistics.
Funding issues have made broad implementation of full-day kindergarten an impossibility for South Harrison in the past.
Aside from Heth-Washington’s lone full-day class, there were 10 half-day kindergarten classes in the corporation last year. Since one teacher can teach two half-day classes, South Harrison would have had to double its staff of kindergarten teachers to make the transition to full day
Transportation expenses will also increase since most kindergarten students are currently riding the bus only once each day.
No additional staff was needed to bring the full-day option to New Middletown because teacher Penny Fessel taught one session of half-day kindergarten and physical education. Fessel will teach kindergarten all day and physical education teachers from other schools will fill the P.E. gap.
After discussing the move with teachers and parents, the school board ‘felt pretty strongly’ about full-day kindergarten, Clark said, however, the half-day option will still be available for parents as a convenience.
Be it half day or full day, kindergarten attendance is not mandatory in Indiana.
Classes begin Aug. 14 for South Harrison kindergarten students.

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