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February 20, 2007 > Pioneer Elementary to pilot all-day kindergarten program

Pioneer Elementary to pilot all-day kindergarten program

All-day kindergarten, which studies have shown can lead to increased student achievement and accelerated behavioral and social development, is coming to the New Haven Unified School District.

In the latest in a series of cooperative efforts between the District and the New Haven Teachers Association, all-day kindergarten will be piloted during the 2007-08 school year at Pioneer Elementary, where a group of kindergarten teachers has been investigating such a program for the past year.

"All-day kindergarten gives our youngest students the opportunity for increased learning," Superintendent Dr. Pat Jaurequi said, "and it gives working parents both the comfort of knowing that their children are in a safe, caring environment and the convenience of fewer transitions in the course of the average day."

Pioneer Principal Joanne Stanley and kindergarten teachers Pat Lothian, Cathy Schoon, Debra Ferguson, Kathleen Rushing, Gail Olivo and Linda Taing deserve credit for initiating the program, Dr. Jaurequi said. The same group of teachers this year has been piloting a staggered-start kindergarten program that also was adopted at two other schools.

"Their initiative and their determination to find ways to best serve our youngest students have led us to a point where we can take the lead in a program that almost everyone agrees should be more widely adopted, all-day kindergarten," Dr. Jaurequi said.

The Superintendent also thanked NHTA President Charmaine Kawaguchi for her role in facilitating an agreement with the Association enabling the school to move ahead with the program.

"In just the past few months, the District and the Association have cooperated on site-based decision-making, a plan to improve staffing ratios and extend classroom periods to 50 minutes at the middle schools and, now, a pilot program for all-day kindergarten," Dr. Jaurequi noted. "Together, we're doing things that directly benefit children."

NHTA President Kawaguchi also noted how the District and Association "worked together to make this happen" and cited the District's willingness "to allow teachers to develop their own program" as an important part of the pilot agreement.

"Many kindergarten teachers, not just here but across the country, like the idea of all-day kinder because it gives them a better opportunity to balance cognitive and social activities," Pioneer Principal Mrs. Stanley said. "All-day kindergarten also can help level the playing field for children who may not have received quality preschool experience."

Preliminary plans call for as many as seven classes of 20 students each at Pioneer next year, up from five classes this year. The increased capacity will accommodate students assigned to Pioneer who in the past would have attended Cabello Elementary, which is closing at the end of the current school year. There also may be room for a limited number of intra-district transfers.

Parents who live outside the Pioneer attendance area and are interested in the all-day kindergarten program can apply for a transfer by calling the Centralized Enrollment Center: (510) 471-1100, ext. 2350.

"Demand for all-day kindergarten will almost certainly exceed supply as we roll out this pilot," said Kathy Moniz, Executive Director of Student Services. "We expect this will be a very popular program, and more important, a very effective program."

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