Elementary schools in Scotts Valley and the San Lorenzo Valley are offering a new grade level for the first time in more than 100 years. But so far, few students have signed up.
Transitional kindergarten is the first year of a two-year kindergarten program for children whose birthdays fall late in the calendar year.
In 2010, then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed into law Senate Bill 1381, the Kindergarten Readiness Act, which was introduced by Sen. Joe Simitian, D-Palo Alto.
The law changes the kindergarten entry date from Dec. 2 to Sept. 1, so that all children will enter kindergarten at age 5. It phases in the age requirement by moving the cutoff date one month earlier each year for three years, beginning this year for children born between Nov. 1 and Dec. 2.
According to Simitian’s office, about 40,000 children in California qualify for transitional kindergarten this year, and once the program is fully phased in, 125,000 children born between Sept. 1 and Dec. 2 will be eligible.
Children who enter as transitional kindergartners will be taught age-appropriate curriculum that is meant to prepare them for kindergarten.
“It will get kids off to a strong start at no additional cost to the state,” Simitian said in a statement. “I’m excited for what this opportunity will mean for our kids, our teachers, our schools, and for California.”
All districts in the state are required to offer the program, but attendance by children is voluntary — just as kindergarten attendance is.
The last time a new grade level was created in California was in 1891, when kindergarten was adopted into state law.
Scotts Valley and San Lorenzo Valley unified school districts will both have kindergarten-transitional kindergarten combination classes.
SLV has classes available at Boulder Creek Elementary School, where three children have signed up for transitional kindergarten, and San Lorenzo Valley Elementary School, which has no sign-ups so far.
Scotts Valley will offer a transitional kindergarten class at Vine Hill Elementary School. As of Tuesday, Aug. 21, three children were enrolled in the class.
No additional teachers were hired at local schools, and an instructional aide will work on specific skills with the transitional kindergartners.
Parents of girls or boys who will turn 5 between Nov. 1 and Dec. 2 this year can register them for transitional kindergarten by calling a local elementary school.