Calif. School Districts Prepare to Start a New Grade Level

Courtney Williams's picture
Monday, July 9, 2012

After a monthslong guessing game about its fate, a new, two-year kindergarten program will open in hundreds of California school districts in August.

Transitional kindergarten, as it's called, is an extra year of school for "fall babies," the roughly 125,000 children who turn 5 between Sept. 1 and Dec. 2. The mandate is written into a law that will gradually move the kindergarten entry date from Dec. 2 to Sept. 1; transitional kindergarten is for children whose birthdays fall in-between. This year, children must turn 5 by Nov. 1 to enroll in a standard kindergarten class.

If creating a new grade level from scratch weren't a big enough task, a budget proposal by Gov. Jerry Brown added a major wrinkle to the endeavor. In January, Brown announced he thought the state should eliminate the mandate -- an idea state lawmakers rejected last month, keeping the law intact.

"We worked very hard to keep it in the budget," said Assemblywoman Susan Bonilla, D-Concord.

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