BY MELISSA CIFELLI
SOUTH BRUNSWICK — The Board of Education voted to adopt policy 5112, changing the district’s kindergarten cutoff age.
The new policy will take effect for the 2006-07 school year. The policy will move the current cutoff date of Dec. 31 to Nov. 30.
Children seeking admission into kindergarten will have to be 5 years of age on or before Nov. 30.
The date will change again for the 2007-08 school year, requiring students to be 5 years of age on or before Oct. 31 to gain admittance into kindergarten.
Citing the negative impacts on a child’s performance and the burden on kindergarten teachers when students enter the classroom at too young an age, Schools Superintendent Dr. Gary P. McCartney introduced the policy to the board in late August.
The implementation of this policy, according to McCartney, will lead to greater outcomes and more positive futures for South Brunswick youth.
Changing the current kindergarten cutoff date caused some controversy, particularly among parents, especially those who had already enrolled their children in preschool programs, but may have to hold them back before entering kindergarten.
Board members, too, were initially concerned about implementing a policy that would not give enough time for parents to prepare for a change in their child’s school schedule.
McCartney revised the initial policy to accommodate the concerns raised by parents and board members.
McCartney’s initial plan implemented the policy for the 2005-06 school year but revised it to give parents enough time to prepare.
The new policy did have support, particularly among kindergarten and first-grade teachers, as well as other board members before the vote.
Board member Daniel Watts said he initially was not overly enthusiastic about the proposed change. According to Watts, the initial proposal appeared to be an easy solution for a problem that was not well characterized.
However, after reviewing the policy, Watts said that McCartney’s plan was not simplistic, and it was important to look at it in context with children’s performance.
Watts also said he has trust in the board that any issues that occur with the implementation of the new policy will be addressed.