Number of students in 4-year-old kindergarten triples in 10 years
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Kaylee Arreola, left, and Aubrie Hanna work on their watercolors recently in the 4-year-old kindergarten class at Wileman Elementary School in Delavan. Dan Plutchak/WalworthCountyToday.com.
DELAVAN — In Angela Vioske’s 4-year-old kindergarten class at Wileman Elementary School, her young students are discovering the difference between red and blue, learning how to cut with scissors and developing the patience to take turns.
They also are part of a growing trend in Wisconsin.
According to a Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction news release, 85 percent of the state’s school districts are offering early kindergarten, known as 4K, during the 2010-’11 school year.
Some 41,000 students currently are enrolled in 4K programs in 350 school districts and 84 private schools around Wisconsin, an increase of more than 3,000 students from the 2009-’10 school year.
Since 2001, the numbers for 4K students have tripled. Seventeen districts started the program this school year and more are expected in the future.
One of Walworth County’s smaller school districts, Williams Bay, has offered a 4K program since 2007, with class sizes averaging between 30 and 40 students.
“Were not getting every pupil who’s out there, certainly, but we’re getting most of them,” said Fred Vorlop, district administrator.
Wendy Overturf, district administrator for the Delavan-Darien School District, said enrollment numbers for her district’s 4K have risen over the last 10 years as the state DPI switched its emphasis from targeting the program for at-risk students only, to requiring that districts open 4K to all students who want to enroll.
Statewide in 2009-’10, school districts operating 4K programs received about $122 million in state school aid.
In 2006, Republicans in the Wisconsin Assembly passed a resolution to end state funding for Wisconsin 4K, but an Assembly task force showed the programs had value, and the resolution died.
Late last year, state Sen. Glenn Grothman, R-West Bend, resurrected the idea, saying the programs are an expense the state cannot afford. He pointed to Madison’s public school district, which is adding the program this year at cost of $10 million in state aid. Grothman is urging Gov. Scott Walker to stop funding additional 4K programs.
Donna Sorensen, principal at Delavan’s Wileman Elementary School, said she’s witnessed the leveling effect 4K programs have on children of varying social and economic backgrounds … FULL STORY.