A state law signed by Gov. Schwarzenegger in 2010 required school districts to start phasing in a new transitional kindergarten grade over a three-year period. The new set of classes is intended for students too young to be in traditional kindergarten but too old to be in pre-school. Under a transitional kindergarten program, students who turn five years old by Sept 1 in any school year would qualify to enroll.
But Governor Jerry Brown's recently proposed budget called for eliminating funding for transitional-K programs, even though many districts have already started pilot programs. San Francisco was one of those districts, but it announced today it won't offer transitional kindergarten in the next school year due to the uncertainty surrounding funding.
Here's the announcement posted on the SFUSD web site today:
Effective immediately, SFUSD will not be offering Transitional Kindergarten (TK) for the 2012-2013 school year. Only students turning 5 years old on or before Nov. 1 will be eligible for Kindergarten entry for the 2012-2013 school year.
In the Governor’s proposed budget for the 2012-2013 school year, school districts would not receive any funding for Transitional Kindergarten, and the state would not mandate districts to offer it. Given that SFUSD cannot afford to offer Transitional Kindergarten if it is not funded by the state, SFUSD will not plan to offer Transitional Kindergarten for the upcoming school year.
While the California Department of Education continues to provide updates and the situation may change over the course of the next several months, SFUSD is moving forward on the assumption that there will be insufficient funding to offer Transitional Kindergarten in the 2012-2013 budget. SFUSD is providing this notification so that families who were interested in TK can take action to make alternative arrangements for their children for the 2012-2013 school year.
SFUSD will not plan to offer Transitional Kindergarten (TK) unless it is state mandated. The legislature is required by law to adopt its budget by July 1 each year though in some recent years the state budget has been passed later than this. Transitional K will affect Kindergarten spaces throughout the district and cannot be accommodated with such late notice. Additionally, families need to plan for their child’s educational setting months in advance. If it is state mandated, SFUSD will offer Transitional Kindergarten spots at two Early Education schools in 2012-2013: Havard and McLaren Early Education Schools.
Update Thursday: From the Chronicle this morning:
San Francisco appeared to be the first district to cancel the program in the wake of the governor's budget.
Other Bay Area school districts with existing transitional kindergarten programs, according to this list from the advocacy group Preschool California, include Oakland, Berkeley, San Jose, and Palo Alto.