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Posted on Wed, Dec 14, 2011 : 5:58 a.m.

Saline schools will start district-wide all-day kindergarten this fall

By Danielle Arndt

Saline Area Schools will transition to an all-day kindergarten program in the fall of 2012 per a 6-0 vote by the Board of Education Tuesday night.

The switch was prompted by a county-wide movement in this direction, as well as a pending initiative from the State Legislature to structure per-pupil funding around the number of minutes a child is actually in the classroom.

In other words, based on this year’s foundation allowance, Saline schools would receive about $3,500 instead of about $7,000 for each half-day kindergartener, said Superintendent Scot Graden.

Graden said starting the all-day program will cost the district about $500,000 - a savings of nearly $1 million, if the Legislature decides to go with the new funding plan.

Graden explained not switching to a full-day would cost the district a total of approximately $1.5 million under the proposed legislation to give only half of the per-pupil funding allowance to part-time kindergarteners.

A group of about seven administrators and educators from Saline elementary schools gathered in the audience of the regular board meeting Tuesday night. They were all smiles when the board approved the 8:50 a.m. to 3:35 p.m. schedule for kindergarteners.

“Eight years ago, we put this proposal together,” said Betty Rosen-Leacher, principal at Harvest Elementary School. “So we are thrilled.”

She said with the extensive curriculum that is now required of teachers even in the lower elementary schools, “a half day doesn’t cut it.”

“This will give teachers time to not just implement the curriculum, but also to give their 5-year-olds the developmental lessons and time children that age need to be successful later in life,” Rosen-Leacher said.

Graden said the half funding concept originally was included in the Legislature’s budget resolution for the current fiscal year. However, after some controversy surrounding the idea of all-day kindergarten, it was postponed with the intent to be revisited in a year.

Saline Area Schools will need to add five sections of all-day kindergarten throughout the district. Saline has three classrooms on an “extended day option.” This option would be eliminated through the all-day kindergarten policy, Graden said, creating a loss of revenue for the district.

Parents pay $4,000 per year to enroll their children in this option.

Adding five sections of kindergarten does not mean SAS will hire five new teachers.

“As we move forward into the budget process, we may see we need to reduce other sections of higher grade levels,” Graden said, admitting it will be a tough budget process come spring.

Saline spent about $1.3 million of its equity this school year, reducing the district’s fund balance from about $2.5 to $1.2 million, he said. But the board and teachers agree all-day kindergarten is worth funding.

Graden said it was important for the board to take action on the kindergarten schedule at Tuesday’s meeting to give parents adequate time to prepare before kindergarten registration begins in mid-February.

Trustee Todd Carter asked whether kindergarten enrollment would suffer for the 2012-2013 academic year with Saline being a “school of choice” district at the lower elementary level. Graden said he does not believe so, considering many of the other districts in Washtenaw County also now have all-day programs or are discussing switching.

“I believe the kids will definitely benefit from more time in the classroom,” said Trustee Craig Hoeft.

Trustee David Friese was absent from Tuesday’s meeting.

Staff reporter Danielle Arndt covers K-12 education for Follow her on Twitter @DanielleArndt or email her at



Thu, Dec 15, 2011 : 3:19 a.m.

This is pathetic. Once again it is not what is best for 5 year old children, it is what lines the pockets and pays the bills for the schools and hence the union employees ! The one and only real reason they did this was to bring in more money. Despite the fact that in two years when my youngest goes to kindergarten and this move will save me money, I still think it is wrong. Good Day


Thu, Dec 15, 2011 : 1:41 p.m.

I don't think the schools make money on this one. There was a story a while ago explaining how the schools are already receiving funding at full-day rates for all kindergarteners, so to implement full day, they will need to pay the teachers and facilities more without receiving more. The people who will benefit monetarily from this are families with two working parents who pay for full day, daycare options. Neither of which speaks to what is best for the needs and development of five year olds, unless improving test scores is good for them.

5c0++ H4d13y

Wed, Dec 14, 2011 : 6:24 p.m.

It seems like what's best for the children was left at the bottom on the list of reasons. The top priority was money and then mandated curriculum compliance.

J. A. Pieper

Thu, Dec 15, 2011 : 3:35 a.m.

Sorry, for many parents, it's the option of free daycare/babysitting!


Wed, Dec 14, 2011 : 7:45 p.m.

What's in the best interest of children went out the door years ago. Having Kindergarten students taking standardized testing (NWEA in A2) is absurd. The process of cutting bussing, lower the amount of time in specials, etc... are all under the category of not in the best interest of kids. I'm sure others could add to the list of not in the best interest of kids.

Billy Bob Schwartz

Wed, Dec 14, 2011 : 5:44 p.m.

This is a ridiculous move. It reminds me of the efforts of Murphy Brown on the TV show of the same name when she went all crazy about getting her expected baby on the wait list for the best pre school in the NYC area. The purpose of kindergarten should be to bring kids into school on a limited basis to let them adjust to being away from home and to learn how to get along with other kids and teachers, and to begin the academic learning process on an introductiory basis. Full-day kindegarten is another of these cockamamy ideas of the right that push kids to push and push and push themselves (with parents lined up behind them pushing, too) to achieve at an every higher level of memorization of basic MEAP stuff, with little concern for the kids themselves and their development as people. The idea of selling out a half day of a kindegartner's life for the extra 3500 bucks seems barbaric, to me. In any event, of course this will greatly improve the most important aspect of modern schools: the baby sitting function. Now, those folks who are fortunate enough to have jobs can send their little ones off in the morning and go to work and not have to worry about child care. Maybe we should start school at birth. What a miracle that would be for the working family.


Wed, Dec 14, 2011 : 9:21 p.m.

"Full-day kindergarten is another of these cockamamy ideas of the right" Do you have any idea how many kids have two working parents? Do you have any idea what percentage on K kids have been in pre-school or day care for 2-3 years BEFORE they reach kindergarten? Do you have kids or grand kids in this age group?


Wed, Dec 14, 2011 : 7:42 p.m.

Or some kids could really benefit from all day because parents work and are in daycare learning very little from the experience. I think for some families, this wouldn't be the option they would choose. But for many families, this might work better and save money (specially if both work and have daycare cost).

Jonny Spirit

Wed, Dec 14, 2011 : 3:35 p.m.

Wonder how there gonna pay for that. Hey teachers you don't do anything, think you can give back another 2.5 million AGAIN! And NO the state is not mandating this. It has been an issue for the past 4 years and it looks like they are not going to do anything with it again this year. Just keep spending Saline, the teachers can give back more, they only work 2 months a year and they don't need to retirement. Hmmmmmm?


Wed, Dec 14, 2011 : 4:18 p.m.

First time I have heard a teacher make those admissions!


Wed, Dec 14, 2011 : 3:08 p.m.

Too bad the Ann Arbor elite always think they know better than anyone else! The fact that Ann Arbor has not moved to all day K really shows their ignorance! But then Ann Arbor has always been more of a follower than a leader than they will admit.

J. A. Pieper

Thu, Dec 15, 2011 : 3:33 a.m.

Any parent could send their child to the all day K classes at the AAPS schools where this is available, if they are considered open enrollment buildings. Of course, in AAPS these buildings aren't the "elite" schools, those you still have to pay for your other half day of Kindergarten.


Wed, Dec 14, 2011 : 1:10 p.m.

Hey, a statewide, all-day kindergarten seems to work for the legislature, why not try it in the schools?


Wed, Dec 14, 2011 : 12:11 p.m.

Ann Arbor needs to jump on the all day bandwagon too.


Thu, Dec 15, 2011 : 2:13 p.m.

@ JA This change in K curriculum is why I have held my kids back. I get flack from other parents who don't like older kids in the class, but I feel it is more developmentally appropriate. I checked with the teacher after my first child to see if it had been problematic for her and she said she wished more people would do it. He was ready to learn the concepts. He wasn't needing to work on sitting, walking in a line, etc. like the other really little kids were.

J. A. Pieper

Thu, Dec 15, 2011 : 3:40 a.m.

Oh, and by the way, if Saline has any kind of open enrollment, families from AAPS will opt for Saline all day K because this is not offered in the "elite" AAPS elementary schools. So... many AA parents will consider this as a more viable population to have their child go to school with. I mean why would you want your child in a district with an achievement gap and a discipline gap?

J. A. Pieper

Thu, Dec 15, 2011 : 3:29 a.m.

I teach in AAPS, and some of our schools have all day K and have for many years. Not saying I totally support it, for various reasons. One thing it does do is push parents to start their kids as soon as possible, you know, get free all day babysitting. The other aspect I am not fond of is our kindergarten classes are highly academic, the days of playing and learning socialization skills are long gone, kids have to be reading and writing by the time they end kindergarten. What are we doing to children? We certainly aren't letting them be kids anymore.

5c0++ H4d13y

Wed, Dec 14, 2011 : 6:22 p.m.

No it doesn't.