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Thursday, May 5, 2016

Officials: Funding may not matter

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

East Side Elementary School students Madison Sirianni, Kylee Dodd and Karson Fosdick read a digital copy of the book Penguin Penguin in Lisa Coughanowr's kindergarten class Tuesday afternoon. Couchanowr said the students have exceeded her expectations despite more rigorous and challenging curriculum for full-day kindergarten students, which was created to adhere to new state standards before the 2011-12 school year began.
Although Indiana legislators recently passed a law giving $80 million to state schools with full-day kindergarten, officials say the funding will only help Clay Community Schools break even.

According to the Indiana Department of Education's website, Gov. Mitch Daniels signed Enrolled Act 1376 in March, which provides an opportunity for Indiana public and charter school districts to receive $2,400 per student attending full-day kindergarten on the September 2012 count date.

"We've had full-day kindergarten for about five years," CCS Superintendent Kimberly Tucker told The Brazil Times. "At first, we considered charging parents a fee to offset the cost. But later, we decided to just use the money from the General Fund to fully financially support those students. We picked up the half-day tuition for the parents."

Tucker added the district has been waiting for the state to value full-day kindergarten as much as CCS has.

"With this money, we're just breaking even," Tucker explained. "We've lost funding for professional development, remediation courses for students and for our Title I programs in the past couple years."

However, Tucker said she has seen an improvement in overall student academic growth and achievement in the elementary schools the past few years.

"Kindergarten isn't about eating snacks and taking naps anymore ... It's not your grandma's kindergarten class anymore," Tucker said. "It's become a standard they have to be able to read out of kindergarten and have experience with (arithmetic.) The teachers had to sit down and rewrite the curriculum to meet these standards."

According to Tucker, the students' literacy assessment scores have increased in CCS elementary schools.

Tucker said she credits the improvements for the elementary students to a combination of multiple types of local education reform.

"It's kind of a caveat to say the increase in growth is due solely to full-day kindergarten," Tucker said. "There are lot of other factors, and it's a combination of contributors."

Then, Tucker explained the kindergarteners are tested through the NWEA (Northwest Evaluation Association) tests in the fall and spring semesters of their kindergarten year, and the fall semester of their first-grade year.

East Side Elementary School kindergarten teacher Lisa Coughnowr said she's amazed by what her students can now do since CCS elementaries have implemented full-day kindergarten.

"Before we were on a half-day/full-day schedule, and it was difficult to keep which students I had what day straight, as well as to know where each student was academically," Coughanowr said. "This schedule allows me to know where each student is and which of the standards they've mastered."

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