Half-day kindergarten is gradually becoming to education what the CD player is becoming to music: obsolete and out-of-date.
The push toward full-day kindergarten is county-wide. The last two holdouts as of 2007 -- Northern York and West Shore -- have added at least some full-day or similar offerings for special education or other at-risk students.
Full-day kindergarten enrollment in York County grew from 33 percent of all kindergarten enrollment in 2007, to 38 percent in 2008, according to the Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children.
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That's about 500 additional students. Another jump was expected this school year.
The state supports the concept of full-day, offering a slew of outside studies touting the benefits of a full-day versus a half-day program.
Full-day students have more time to work on skills, are in less of a rush and have more social time, better preparing them for the full-day expectations of
first grade, the studies show.
Around the county: Several districts are planning to add full-day classes or recently made changes:
---Central York is finishing the phasing out of its four remaining half-day kindergarten classes this year and will offer only full-day next year.
---Dallastown is considering making all of its kindergarten classes full-day. It has two full-day classes now for at-risk students.
---South Eastern School District is revisiting the idea of adding to its full-day program, after previously holding off because of budget restrictions.
It will cost about $350,000 to expand it to all students. South Eastern's at-risk students have been in an extended-day model, another name for full-day kindergarten.
---Southern York made all of its kindergarten classes full-day, beginning this year.
---West Shore added an "acceleration program," similar to a full-day model, for its at-risk students. Students get extra tutoring for a few hours before or after their half-day kindergarten class.
---West York is conducting a feasibility study on its building space use, in part to see if there is room to expand its program. The district has three classes, all for at-risk students.
---York Suburban is in favor of expanding its program, but space limitations from ongoing renovations will hold off plans at least until the 2011-12 school year.
One parent's view: Southern parent Karen Folfas had told the school board two years ago, when they were considering the switch, she was worried it would be "too much, too soon" for her daughter.
Olivia Folfas, 5, will enter a full-day program next fall, and Folfas wishes the half-day option hadn't been taken away from families.
Her two older children were fine in a half-day format, she said recently, and she wonders why the nap time, gym and some other non-academic portions of full-day couldn't be done at home.
"I'd rather have my daughter home at that point," Folfas said.
Parents of at-risk children or those who would otherwise have to pay for child care would greatly benefit from full-day, Folfas said, but that doesn't mean all parents want that.
"I don't like having that option taken away from me," she said.
In Central: Central York parents seem to be OK with not having a half-day option starting next year, said Central York Superintendent Michael Snell.
He's received just a handful of calls from concerned parents as the district phases out half-day classes going into next school year.
"It's come full circle that a vast majority (of parents) want full-day," Snell said. "We think it provides more opportunities to reinforce learning."
Once a district makes all of its kindergarten classes full-day, "it's kind of hard to pull back," said Dover Superintendent Robert Krantz, even with always-present budget pressure. Dover became a full-day district about five years ago.
Dover believes full-day better prepares students by the time they start taking state tests in third grade. It's also been a success with parents.
"But you also have to be looking at funding," Krantz said. "Do we still have the money to do it?"
-- Reach Andrew Shaw at 505-5431, firstname.lastname@example.org or twitter.com/ydblogwork.