San Francisco parents unprepared for district’s kindergarten decision 

click to enlarge Jaime and Marija Maldonado's 4-year-old daughter Ivana wwould have been eligible for a “transitional kindergarten” program at SFUSD in the fall, but the district just cancelled that because of budget cuts. - MIKE KOOZMIN/SPECIAL TO THE EXAMINER
  • Mike Koozmin/Special to the Examiner
  • Jaime and Marija Maldonado's 4-year-old daughter Ivana wwould have been eligible for a “transitional kindergarten” program at SFUSD in the fall, but the district just cancelled that because of budget cuts.

Parents planning to enroll their children in transitional kindergarten were frustrated last week when the San Francisco Unified School District announced plans to scrap the program for kids whose fifth birthdays fall after a new school entrance cut-off date.

The district’s about-face was prompted by Gov. Jerry Brown’s 2012-13 budget proposal, which eliminates funding for such students.

School district officials, who made their announcement two days before a deadline for parents to submit kindergarten admission applications, estimated that as many as 390 families would be affected.

“If she was born one day ahead of time, we wouldn’t be dealing with this,” said one such parent, Marija Maldonado, whose daughter Ivana will turn 5 on November 2, 2012. “I did my research, toured schools, filled out my applications — I couldn’t believe it.”

Maldonado said parents would find it difficult to make alternative arrangements for their children, because application deadlines for some pre-schools have already passed.

“You’ve got everybody freaking out,” she said. “They should have come out and said, ‘There’s a chance this might not happen.’”

Motoko Binger, whose daughter Wren turns 5 on November 6, said her family already was struggling to pay $800 a month for Wren to attend preschool. And to make matters more difficult, she said, Wren would be too old to continue at that preschool once she turns five.

“Now we have only a few more months to think of a plan,” Binger said. “We have no idea what we’re going to do.”

Wren had been excited about starting school in the fall, and her mother said she had not had the heart to break the news to her that she will not be able to go.

“My daughter talks about it every day, what she’s going to do,” Binger said. “We haven’t been able to tell her yet.”

acrawford@sfexaminer.com

 

The Kindergarten Readiness Act of 2010

What it does: Gradually increases the age at which children become eligible for kindergarten; requires school districts to offer a year of “transitional kindergarten” for children whose fifth birthdays fall between a new cutoff date and December 2.

School Year      Kindergarteners must turn five by:

2011-12                   Dec. 2

2012-13                  Nov. 1

2013-14                  Oct. 1

2014-15                  Sept. 1

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Amy Crawford

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