The Mequon-Thiensville School District has announced that it will explore the possibility of offering four-year-old kindergarten to students in the District as early as the 2011-2012 school year. Currently, more than 80% of Wisconsin school districts offer four-year-old kindergarten, with more districts adding it every year.
Educational research consistently shows that starting a pre-kindergarten program at four leads to notably higher student achievement in later years, making four-year-old-kindergarten one of the single best investments that a school district can make. Research suggests that the central focus of any pre-kindergarten program should be to ensure that students are provided with trained, state-certified teachers and an age-appropriate curriculum.
“While parents are their children’s first and most important teacher, through pre-kindergarten, four-year-olds can learn critical foundational skills that lead to improved reading, writing, and mathematics ability later in life,” said Dr. Demond Means, superintendent. “This is just one of the reasons why the administration has suggested to the board that four-year-old kindergarten should be considered.”
Director of Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment Eric Dimmitt stated that, “The ability to deliver curriculum to the children in our schools is an academic and community benefit. I have great confidence in our teachers that they can academically, socially and emotionally prepare the children for this important first step in the academic journey.” Dr. Means pointed out that area private and parochial schools like Lumen Christi, Calvary, Trinity-Freistadt and University School of Milwaukee have all established four-year kindergarten programs. “In some cases, the private and parochial schools have even established three-year old kindergarten programs. Our colleagues in the private school sector obviously see the value in a four-year old program.”
In an effort to assess whether four-year-old kindergarten should implement in the public schools of Mequon and Thiensville, the District will hold a number of listening sessions with community members. The next sessions are scheduled for the following dates:
Date Location Start Time
April 20, 2010 Oriole Lane School 7:00 p.m.
April 27, 2010 Wilson School 7:00 p.m.
May 4, 2010 Weyenberg Library 2:00 p.m.
May 11, 20101 Egelhoff Conference Room 7:00 p.m.
The District strongly encourages parents and community members to participate in the listening sessions. The primary purpose of the listening sessions is for District officials to gather the opinion of the public. The listening sessions serve as an opportune time to share information with the public and for administrators to answer questions or to address concerns.
State law provides flexibility in terms of how four-year-old kindergarten is implemented and many Wisconsin districts have developed interesting delivery models. While four-year-old-kindergarten can be offered in a traditional school classroom, it can also be offered by the District in partnership with childcare providers and private preschools. District officials are interested in exploring all delivery models at this point.
“In addition to determining whether we should implement four-year-old kindergarten at all, we must also determine, if we do decide to pursue the program, how it should be offered,” said Means. “The important thing for community members to know is that as we consider four-year-old kindergarten every option is under consideration.”
The Mequon-Thiensville Board of Education will formally act on this administrative recommendation in November 2010. “Until the formal board action, the concept is open for discussion”, said Means.
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