Kindergarten age cutoff may change

Parents hoping to enroll their children in a District 51 kindergarten may have to wait a little longer if they have a summer birthday.

District 51 School Board members will consider a resolution at their next meeting, Feb. 18, to move up the deadline for a child to turn five years old before enrolling in kindergarten. Children must turn five on or before Sept. 15 of the year they enroll in kindergarten under current board policy. That deadline could change to Aug. 15 or July 15 this year if the board passes a resolution.

It is possible board members may decide not to change the cutoff date for the 2014-15 school year but impose a new deadline for 2015-16. Lesley Rose, District 51 executive director of academic achievement for elementary schools, told board members at a workshop Tuesday a change this year may be tough because kindergarten roundup is looming just a little over a month away on March 7. Many parents have already told their children to expect to go to kindergarten this fall, she said, and those parents may be left scrambling for a slot in a preschool or day care instead.

“It could be difficult for some principals to greet parents (at kindergarten roundup) and tell them, ‘Sorry, we changed it two weeks ago,’” if they haven’t heard about the change, Rose said.

Rose added the district’s elementary office does support a change in the age cutoff at some point due in large part to data that shows some of the youngest students in a grade have the hardest time keeping up. Data Rose collected on District 51 students shows 39 percent of last year’s third-graders born between July 15 and Sept. 15, 2004 tested in the unsatisfactory range on Transitional Colorado Assessment Program tests in 2012-13, compared to 24 percent for their peers with earlier birthdays.

Similarly, 30 percent of this year’s kindergarten students with the lowest reading ability have a birthday between July 15 and Sept. 15, as did 11 of the 24 of the students asked to repeat kindergarten in the district this year.

Of the 1,693 kindergarten students in the district at this time, 255 were born between July 15 and Sept. 15, 2008.

A change this year may cause concern for some families, Board President Greg Mikolai said, but he said one year of disappointment may eclipse years of a younger student struggling to keep up with peers.

“One way or another we’re going to have people mad at us. We might as well have them mad now,” Mikolai said.

Board member Ann Tisue agreed, saying it may be “penny wise and pound foolish” to delay a change given the data Rose presented.

“It’s hard for me to think of waiting when you’re going to impact those kids” planning to enter kindergarten this fall, she said.


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