By Marsha Sutton
The Solana Beach School District’s Board of Education stood firmly behind SBSD superintendent Nancy Lynch and her controversial decision to extend the kindergarten day in the district’s Global Education program next year, by voting to support the change from modified day to full day.
However, because the decision to implement full day was announced after parents had already chosen Global Ed for their children, there were some concessions.
The board voted to offer an optional modified day with its 1:15 p.m. dismissal through the end of December, shifting all students starting in January 2014 to full day and a 3 p.m. dismissal.
Board members also voted to hold a seat open for the 2014-2015 school year for parents who wish to hold their kids back one year.
“Parents who feel their children aren’t ready for the full day can do the modified until winter break,” Lynch said. For parents who feel that still isn’t enough time and want a whole year of modified, their kids can start kindergarten in the program next year.
Lisa Denham, principal of Skyline School in Solana Beach where Global Ed is located, said the board’s compromise was a workable solution.
The vote was four board members in favor and one, board president Rich Leib, opposed. Because of the late notice given to incoming kindergarten families, Leib preferred an optional modified day for the entire 2013-2014 school year rather than half the year.
All five board members, however, supported making the Global Education kindergarten program full day for all students beginning with the 2014-2015 school year.
Discussion on this issue at the May 23 board meeting lasted several hours, with about 100 people in attendance and 16 speakers, 15 of whom spoke in favor of the modified day and one speaker in favor of full day.
David Zito, Solana Beach city council member, said the board should have involved parents in the decision and supported the modified day, saying it allows children “more time to be kids.”
Bobbie Hilton, one of the founders of Global Ed and a retired teacher, said full-day kindergarten is against the principles of Global Education and that the change will negatively impact the reading program.
“I know in my soul that modified day is best for kids,” she said.
Hilton and several other speakers – including Linnea Dayton, one of the parents who started the alternative program 35 years ago – asked the board to postpone the decision for one year, form a task force to study the issue, and then make a decision.
Terry Hendlin, a San Dieguito Union High School District counselor, said the kindergarten program isn’t broken and doesn’t need to be fixed.
SDUHSD biology teacher Ariel Haas, who has an incoming Global Ed kindergartner this fall, also opposed the change to full day, saying unstructured play and down-time are important for young children.
He also said the teachers want to keep modified day and are being ignored. “Why not listen to them?” he said, calling this “shocking” as a teacher.