Michigan Senate Education Committee

Bill on kindergarten start dates moves forward

May 17, 2012 // 0 Comments

by CINDY M. CRANMER A bill to move back the kindergarten start date in Michigan is moving forward after the Senate Education Committee approved a three-year plan to phase it in. Sen. Darwin Booher, the bills’ sponsor, told The Rockford Squire that the five-member panel ended up split over the decision after hearing extensive testimony from educators on Wednesday, March 21. Kindergarten teachers statewide have supported the measure overall, while some school administrators voiced opposition to the plan. Rolling back the eligibility date means fewer students starting kindergarten and the state saving millions in per-student allowances that are provided to public schools. Booher said he is in support of using the savings as an opportunity to restore support and invest in early childhood programs that have been underfunded. Four-year-olds have been eligible to start kindergarten in Michigan as long as they turn five by December 1 of the school year they begin. After concerns were voiced by school districts, a phased-in plan that staggers the cut-off for kindergarten eligibility was approved. During the 2012-2013 school year, the cut-off will be November 1. It will be moved back to October 1 for the 2013-2014 school year and the cut-off by the 2014-2015 school year would be September 1. The original bill had an exception, but that language has since been taken out, but some administrators are pushing for that in the final bill. “A large part of kindergarten is learning how to adapt socially,” said Farwell Superintendent Carl Seiter. “When students struggle with the social aspect, the academics suffer.” “From an education standpoint, I think the shift will help student achievement in the long run,” Seiter said. “Academically, it’s going to be a good move.” “Financially, this could impact schools,” Seiter said. “I would choose the academic aspects over the financial aspects at this point.” Locally, Rockford Superintendent Dr. Michael Shibler said parents have the most information about whether students are ready for school. “I really think the people who are most qualified to decide if students are ready for kindergarten are the parents,” Shibler said. “I really think the parents and the school district should make the decision.” Shibler said he likes the idea of allowing for testing to appeal the decision if the age […]