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Greencastle-Antrim schools OK full-day kindergarten

May 16, 2008|By CHRIS CARTER

GREENCASTLE, Pa. -- Greencastle-Antrim Primary School administrators were pleased when leaving Thursday night's school district board meeting.

Their students, well, they might not be so happy to hear the news - more school.

Board members voted 8-0 to approve the move from a half-day kindergarten program to a full-day program beginning this fall.

"I'm very excited that the board voted on and approved full-day kindergarten," primary school principal Angie Singer said. "I'm very eager to share that news with the faculty and we will be celebrating (this) morning."

Molly Moran, coordinator of federal and special programs, and Mary Frey, primary school director of education, echoed that tone.

"I have been waiting a long time for this. I just wanted to get up and scream," Frey said. "To think that next year we're going to be at full-day kindergarten and the impact it will have on the students is incredible."

The closest the school district came to full-day kindergarten in years past was an extended-day program. The program, installed six years ago, allowed half-day students to spend hours before or after school focusing on literacy.

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The full-day program will replace all extended-day activities, Singer said.

"With full-day kindergarten, all kids will be getting extended-day opportunities," she said.

To accommodate the change, the school district will need to hire two more kindergarten teachers, with salary and benefit costs from between $120,000 and $130,000, business manager Richard G. Lipella said.

Another two teachers will be hired, but it will not cost the district because they will pull from the first-grade teaching staff, which can afford to be trimmed because of an expected incoming class of less than 160, Singer said.

Meanwhile, the projected kindergarten class from the 2008-09 school year could reach 200, according to board members. The kindergarten teaching staff, which currently stands at seven, will increase to 11 in the fall to create a student-teacher ratio of about 18-1.

Superintendent C. Gregory Hoover said that staff could accommodate as many as 220 students - a 20-1 ratio - but any greater number could require additional hires.

Administrators are ready to make any sacrifices, such as rearranging space to fit 11 kindergarten classrooms.

"Certainly, there will be a transition," Singer said. "But the academic gains that students will gain from the full-day program are what excite me the most."

A pilot study for full-day kindergarten this year showed academic success among students, and satisfied parents, Singer said.

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