Kindergarten Academy is interesting idea

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, March 31, 1999

Kindergarten Academy.

Wednesday, March 31, 1999

Kindergarten Academy. Has a kind of catchy name, doesn’t it?

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Besides its rather cool name, the pilot program, as proposed by Candace Raskin, the Cedar River Education District director of education services, has the potential to offer Austin youngsters a valuable educational experience.

Raskin proposed the pilot program Tuesday. Kindergarten Academy would be an all-day kindergarten class focused on teaching children more social skills. In essence it would be kindergarten the old-fashion way - a more relaxed environment, more interplay between the students and probably a lot more fun.

The program does come with a price tag, however. Because the state of Minnesota does not reimburse districts for all-day kindergarten programs, the program would cost approximately $1,500 per year, per student. Those families whose income does not exceed $33,500 would be eligible for a refund tax of up to $1,000 per child. In addition, all families, regardless of income, could claim the $1,500 as an educational tax deduction.

Raskin explained the program would initially be run out of Community Education in 1999-2000 and would be run on a break-even basis.

Kindergarten Academy would not replace Title I extended day program for kindergartners who are likely to have problems with math and/or reading. Instead the program would give parents and youngsters another learning option. For those families already paying childcare costs, moving their child to Kindergarten Academy could offset the costs.

The program isn’t new. It has been successfully tried in other areas such as Faribault. If approved, the pilot program would run either one or two classes at Woodson School.

The Austin School Board has asked for a more formal proposal at its April 21 meeting.

At this point the program sounds like a winner. It gives families and students another educational opportunity at the cost of those participating in the program. And certainly a return to the old-fashioned kindergarten may give more students the right start in school and help get them started on the right learning path.