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Greenon follows trend on all-day kindergarten

Only one Clark district left with half-day classes.

Kindergartners entering Greenon schools next year will get more time to learn as the district moves to all-day classes, following a state and national trend.

All-day kindergarten, said Hustead Elementary School Principal Darrin Knapke, is an educational model that’s become more popular across the country and, specifically, in Ohio as the state’s core curriculum becomes more rigorous.

In Clark County, with Greenon’s change, five of of the county’s seven public districts will offer all-day, every day kindergarten next year. One will continue it’s all-day, every other day program, and one offers half-day kindergarten.

Several area superintendents who responded to a Springfield News-Sun survey said that research indicates students are more likely to be successful when the have more time to learn.

Knapke is about as close to the topic as an educator can get. It was the focus of his master’s degree research study at the University of Dayton, and he taught both half-day and, later, all-day kindergarten at Fairborn City Schools.

“Any study you read, it definitely weighs heavily on the benefits of all-day kindergarten with the kids being there that much longer each day,” Knapke said. “Being able to do reading, writing and math — all those valuable core subject areas — each day definitely is important.”

And the extra instruction hours enabled him to teach beyond the kindergarten level at Fairborn, he said.

“I remember when I taught all-day kindergarten, I would get into even a lot of the first-grade standards because of the level my kids were on and I didn’t want to hold them back,” he said.

Based on an Ohio Department of Education list of 2011-12 kindergarten schedules at all Ohio districts, the Springfield-News Sun estimated that about 75 percent of the more than 600 public districts in the state offered all-day, every day and all-day, every other day kindergarten.

The remaining 25 percent offered half-day kindergarten and an alternative kindergarten schedule.

The News-Sun adjusted the percentages because some districts were listed multiple times and some were listed as having several types of kindergarten schedules.

The move from half-day to all-day kindergarten here began with Springfield City Schools, which began rolling it out during the 1997-98 school year, Superintendent David Estrop said.

“It is one of the best investments to make to improve student performance,” he said.

Among those improvements are time for students falling behind to catch up, academic deficiencies to be addressed early, and greater probability of student success, Estrop said.

Meanwhile, Tecumseh Local Schools will continue its all-day, every other day kindergarten schedule due to budget constraints.

“We have not discussed any changes for next year,” Superintendent Brad Martin said. “We currently are unable to provide this option due to out financial situation.”

Greenon’s board of education approved the change last month after teachers, administrators and Knapke looked more into the benefits of the longer kindergarten schedule, Knapke said.

“It’s my second year in the district, but (because of) my research that I had done and coming from Fairborn and knowing the benefits of it, I was definitely a huge proponent for it, and so were the other people involved,” he said.

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