Much more than ABCs

The benefits of all-day kindergarten can’t be argued.
The National Education Association states that full-day kindergarten can produce long-term educational
gains, especially for low-income and minority students; teachers have more time to get to know kids and
identify and address their learning challenges early; and an early investment in children’s social,
emotional and intellectual skills means lower grade retention and dropout rates for students later in
life.
Why then has Bowling Green never had all-day kindergarten except in one school?
Money is part of it.
Superintendent Ann McVey said it will cost approximately $225,000 yearly to offer all-day classes.
But full-day classes may be coming soon.
"Our plan at this time is to have all-day kindergarten in the fall."
With 218 students enrolled in half-day K this year, the district would have to hire four more teachers to
provide the program in the three elementaries.
The money is now available because of reductions in spending, a lot of retirements, a little boost in
state funding, and good fiscal planning, said McVey.
Even through funding difficulties, "all-day kindergarten is a district priority," she stated.

"I don’t know why" it wasn’t implemented years ago, she added.
Years ago, McVey said, South Main Elementary used to offer all-day K.
Seven retired elementary teachers – with a combined 151 years teaching kindergarten in Bowling Green –
wrote a letter to the editor earlier this year sharing what they’ve learned.
"Kindergarten is no longer just about learning to share, to count and to name the letters and sounds
of the alphabet. … Time is needed to explore social studies and science in depth, to work with small
groups or beginning readers and writers coaching individuals to be successful."
With the high-stakes third-grade reading guarantee plus reading and math tests, early learning has become
essential.
But third-graders in Bowling Green have historically done well on state tests, as outlined in the
district’s state Report Card. Since 2003-04, when the first report was issued, Bowling Green
third-graders have passed both reading and math tests.
With half-day, every-day K, youngsters are only in the classroom 2.5 hours, not nearly enough time to
settle in, claimed Myrl DenBesten, who retired from teaching kindergarten in Bowling Green in 2007 after
29 years in education.
With all-day K, kids have a better chance of succeeding, said Helene Weinberger, who retired from the BG
kindergarten classroom in 2004 after 30 years.
All-day K was promised two years ago, before the defeat of two levies.
"The taxpayer needs to support it," stated DenBesten.
"It just seems you can find the money," said Weinberger.
Jean Daly has taught in Bowling Green since 1977, and could never figure out why all-day K was not
offered.
"I can’t tell how many times I was told ‘next year,’" she added.
Lake Schools cut all-day K in 2012, and now offers half day, every other day for 113 students.
It will cost the district between $225,000 and $250,000 to bring the program back, money the district
does not have even if a renewal levy passes in November.
"We can’t go back to all-day kindergarten," said Jeff Carpenter, Lake’s treasurer.
"Academically, we’re trying to make up for lost time. We are definitely seeing the impact. You can’t
make up for time we don’t have," said Christie McPherson, Lake Elementary principal.
She said she is seeing more tears in the first grade from students not used to being in school every day.

In Wood County, only Lake and Bowling Green are not offering all-day kindergarten.
Otsego went to all-day K this year – after offering all day, every other day – in answer to parental
requests.
"It was a cry from the community," said Betsey Murry, elementary principal.
The impact already is noticeable.
"Now, the content is so much further along than it was last year," she stated.
The district also noted an increase in the number of students.
Ninety were enrolled last year, this year there are 120 leading to the need for five classes and five
teachers.
"I just think the smoothness of our kindergarten program is better," she stated.
She added that now every class gets to enjoy gym, music and art.
"When kids get to first grade, they can pick up the curriculum faster."
"Kids are expected to read by the time they leave kindergarten," said Elmwood Elementary
Principal Michelle Tuite. "Without having the extra time, I don’t know how we can get that
done."
Elmwood has had an all-day kindergarten since 1992.
Tuite said the lessons outlined in Robert Fulghum’s "All I Really Need to Know I Learned in
Kindergarten" ring true. The first five items on that list include: Share everything; Play fair;
Don’t hit people; Put things back where you found them; Clean up your own mess.
She has 100 students in her kindergarten classes, with four teachers and four aides.
Having an all-day class helps the youngsters learn social interaction and verbal skills, something that
might be lacking if they have more alone time at home along with exposure to video games, she said.
"Whatever the cost, it’s well worth it," Tuite stated.
McVey in Bowling Green is not arguing the benefits of an all-day program.
"Double the time of the contact with teachers will increase achievement," she stated.
She added her concern is for children who are not enrolled in a preschool.
"We have children who haven’t been to a preschool. A child’s experience before they get to school
has a tremendous impact on their achievement and performance."
Even with a half-day program, "I think our teachers do an excellent job focusing their
instruction."