NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — School districts across Connecticut are continuing to plan their response to the state’s new kindergarten deadline, which may present new challenges.
The new kindergarten deadline will force kids under 5, born after Sept. 1, to be pushed back a year in school starting in 2024.
For some, this change will mean paying for an extra year of childcare.
Sarah Delvecchio’s children were born before the cut-off and will not be impacted by the new rule, but she empathizes with families who will be negatively affected.
“I’m a stay-at-home mom, so it’s not something I’ve had to consider, but absolutely, preschools you have to pay a lot of money for and daycares as well,” Delvecchio said.
Aundrea Tabbs-Smith, a worker for New Haven’s Friends Center for Children, says the center is currently unprepared to deal with the potential influx of children that will be coming in due to the new rule.
“There isn’t any funding to serve those additional children,” Tabbs-Smith said. “The way that this was rolled out did not take into consideration all the parties involved: families, educators, providers.”
Tabbs-Smith said staff members at Friends Center for Children will be forced to create additional space for the expected preschoolers next year.
While some families have expressed concern over the new deadline, Hamden parent Janie Alexander said the change could benefit some children.
“My son is a Sept.1 child,” Alexander said. “He stayed back a year, and it worked really well for him.”
Michelle McKnight, a South Windsor math instructional coach, echoed this sentiment.
“With the students coming in, they’ll be a little bit older, more developmentally ready for kindergarten,” McKnight said. “We’re seeing a lot of students coming in very young, who developmentally, they’re not really able to access what kindergarten is asking students to do now.”
According to Connecticut’s State Department of Education (CSDE), parents can ask to be exempt from the new rule.
“It is the decision of the principal and a certified school staff member to determine the assessment process and/or tools that will be used to inform their decision,” the CSDE said in a statement.
Some districts may require students to undergo an assessment, while others, including New Haven’s district, said they need to evaluate the situation more.
“We have more work to do before we are prepared to advise families,” spokesperson Justin Harmon said.
Consolidated School District of New Britain Superintendent Tony Gasper said in a statement that staff are currently projecting 40-60 students could remain in pre-K and not enter kindergarten for the 2024-25 school year.
“Staffing will need to shift. The difficulty is that these two levels have separate certifications from (Connecticut State Department of Education),” Gasper said in a statement. “I hope that the CSDE will be able to issue a one-time flexibility that would allow us to flex staffing across the PK/K levels, but there has been no word of this.”