Board revisits age minimum

The school board will reconsider the kindergarten admission age.

At Monday’s committee meetings, the curriculum, instruction, and technology committee moved a recommendation to the full board that it adopt a two-year “grandfather clause” to the policy that reset the date to July 1.

According to the changed policy, children who are not at least five years old on July 1 will not be allowed to enroll in the district for that school year. The grandfather clause proposal would push the application of that policy back to the 2020-2021 school year.

Until then, the old policy would remain in effect. Under that policy, the kindergarten admission date is the same as the first day of school.

District officials wanted to change the old policy to make it more predictable. “Parents didn’t know what the first day of school is going to be in two years,” Superintendent Amy Stewart said. “We needed to set a date.”

Based on input from teachers and the early education coalition, the administration recommended July 1 — the date eventually approved by the board. “There is nothing magical about other dates,” Stewart said. “We wanted to err on the side of making sure these kiddos are as ready as they can be.”

She said the youngest kindergartners have a somewhat higher rate of retention — going through kindergarten again. But, the data, and the research available, is not conclusive.

“If there was something compelling, I would give it to you.”

Changing the date on the fly caused problems for a select group — parents with children born between the old date and the new.

“We’ve heard some frustration from some parents,” Stewart said.

Parents who enrolled their children in pre-school over the past two years based on the old date could face a third year of pre-school.

The board was generally sympathetic and expressed appreciation for the research done by the parents.

“I think the input from parents has been extremely valuable,” board member Arthur Stewart said.

“We get a lot of requests that don’t have that background,” board member Joe Colosimo said.

Amy Stewart said she would not recommend a firm date at the end of August or beginning of September.

“If you set a date in that zone, you are determining when we can start school because we cannot enroll four-year-olds,” she said.

The grandfather clause proposal will be on the agenda at the board’s regular meeting on Jan. 8.