Transitional kindergarten program is coming to town

Coupeville Schools will introduce a transitional kindergarten program at no cost for families.

The Coupeville School Board unanimously approved the introduction of the district’s first transitional kindergarten program at no cost for families during a meeting on Thursday.

Transitional kindergarten would help children who need additional preparation before entering kindergarten, children who have special needs or are learning English and children who simply aren’t enrolled in preschool due to costs or lack of availability. They would be in the care of a general education teacher and a classified paraeducator.

The transitional kindergarten program comes with many benefits, according to Superintendent Steve King.

“The post-pandemic effects of reduced social skills, heightened behavioral challenges and overall students entering kindergarten less prepared for kindergarten has demonstrated an additional need in our community for preschool,” King wrote in an email.

The program has the potential to reduce concerns over social and emotional skills, academic performance and behavior while increasing the students’ chances of academic and career success.

Toddlers with special needs, who would have specially designed instruction, could have the opportunity to meet their peers and find role models.

A transitional kindergarten program might reduce the need for special education services in the years to come, as well as reduce the number of students accessing Title I services.

Children who qualify for multilingual learner services would get the support of the district’s multilingual learner teacher.

Students would also have access to transportation, breakfast and lunch, as well as access to the same specialists as kindergarten students, according to a memo sent by King.

King wrote the cost of the program, including the cost of a teacher and a paraeducator (who are already working for the district), curriculum and other “miscellaneous items” will be funded by the state’s prototypical funding model, which recently added funding for transitional kindergarten.

For each student enrolled, the Coupeville School District receives a minimum of $13,000 in apportionment dollars, according to the memo.

The district is currently gauging interest in the program, which would kick off in September and accept students who turn 4 on or before Aug. 31.

Families can complete an interest survey, which can be found on the Coupeville Schools Facebook page and is due by June 15. The program will then accept the first round of applicants by the end of June.

The transitional kindergarten will run daily from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. — with the exception of Wednesdays, when it closes at 2:30 p.m.