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Integrated KG concept proposed in Palmerton

Published January 18. 2012 05:02PM

Could all kindergarten pupils in the Palmerton Area School District be required to participate in an extended day kindergarten program?

Sherrie Fenner, director of curriculum and instruction, presented the proposal to the school board on Tuesday.

Fenner said the purpose of the extended day program is to remediate students who show delays in kindergarten readiness; to receive focused instruction for first-grade readiness; and to potentially reduce future special education placements.

Fenner said presently Parkside Education Center and Towamensing Elementary each have one teacher dedicated to one classroom with the same students all day.

She said Parkside has one extended day kindergarten and two sections of half-day AM kindergarten, as well as two sections of half-day PM kindergarten, for a total of 85 students.

Towamensing has one extended day kindergarten, and one section of half-day AM kindergarten, as well as one section of half-day PM kindergarten, for a total of 46 students, Fenner said.

As part of the recommended kindergarten model, Fenner said all students would participate in a half-day program.

If such a move were to be approved, the students identification into the extended day kindergarten would not change, she said. Students identified for the program would be included in a half-day program for half the day, and attend the extended day program for the remainder of the day, Fenner said.

"The program itself won't change," Fenner said. "But, they won't be with the same group of kids all day long."

For Parkside, that would mean one teacher would have a half-day AM kindergarten and an extended day PM kindergarten; while two teachers would have both a half-day AM and half-day PM kindergarten.

At Towamensing, one teacher would have a half-day AM kindergarten and an extended day PM kindergarten, while one teacher would have both a half-day AM and half-day PM kindergarten.

Fenner said the benefits are that the program would integrate all students into kindergarten; there would be no additional cost; the students would be divided equally among all kindergarten teachers; they would have a smoother transition to first grade; and would see good readers, positive behaviors, and be integrated with their peers so that they would avoid isolation.

The next steps, Fenner said, would be to adjust the extended day curriculum, and to revise the schedules.

Board President Barry Scherer said he would be in favor of the recommendation.

"I like it; I think it really makes sense," Scherer said. "You're integrating them."

Director Sherry Haas concurred.

"I like it," Haas said. "I agree it's a very good concept."

Mary Brumbach, principal of S.S. Palmer and Parkside, added there are a plethora of benefits for the pupils.

Director Josann Harry suggested the move could make for a long day for such young pupils.

But, Brumbach said such a program would be advantageous for the pupils.

In other business, the board:

• Approved the following student teachers from East Stroudsburg University from Jan. 23-March 16, 2012: Patrick Wanamaker with Zach Tofany, junior high Learning Support Teacher; Daniel Costenbader with Lyn Sutton, S.S. Palmer Learning Support Teacher; and Travis Fraunfelter with Kris Hoffner, Towamensing grade 4 teacher.

• Removed the following substitutes due to non-compliance of completion of form Act 24 of 2011, effective Jan. 18, 2012: Ian Horton, Guest Teacher; Jamie Farber, Guest Teacher; Jeanine Villano-George, Guest Teacher; Jessica Farkas, Substitute Teacher; Jo Lynn Gazo, Substitute Teacher; Jennifer Graver, Substitute Teacher; Jennifer Silliman, Substitute Teacher; Kenneth Sutton, Jr., Substitute Teacher; Caitlin Varga, Substitute Teacher; and James Ruth, Substitute Custodian.

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