Devin Larson waited in the Lecture Hall in anticipation, feeling as though she was going to be sick.
With the click of a button Thursday afternoon, the next year of her child’s education was determined. She was number 23 of 24. Her daughter just made it into the
Larson slightly crouched, covered her mouth with both hands in shock, and said, “I got in!” Larson made a phone call almost immediately to share the news.
“I’m just so happy I’m out of daycare,” she said, although she called the lottery process “wrong” and a “terrible thing.”
“My child’s going to have more of an advantage," Larson said.
After unveiling a full-time kindergarten pilot program, the Lacey Township School District held a lottery Thursday. This September, there will be one full-day kindergarten class per elementary school with a class size of 24.
Dr. William Lake, supervisor of computer education, utilized Research Randomizer, a free online number generator that has been around since 1997, to conduct the lottery.
Each school was assigned a range of numbers, which pertained to individual students. There were 95 registrants for the kindergarten pilot in the , 78 for and 80 for . Lake used one through 95 for the Forked River School. The first 24 numbers would make it into the full-time kindergarten class.
“I don’t think it’s fair. I think they should hold off until they can have it for all the students,” Debra Monroe said prior to the lottery results.
But that wouldn’t be possible. The program will be utilizing the facilities and staffing the district already has, District Supervisor of Humanities William Zylinski previously said. Currently, the district does not have the facilities or the resources to offer full-day kindergarten to everyone.
“Twenty-four select students get full day.” Monroe said, concerned the program would create an education gap in the first grade between those who had full-day kindergarten and those who did not. Monroe said she was told that if her child did not get into the program, he would catch up by the third grade.
Lake entered the numerical range for each school separately and clicked “Randomize Now!” More than 50 parents whispered amongst themselves as they searched the results for their number and learned their fate.
Monroe showed no expression of excitement or disappointment but her child got into the Forked River School’s program.
“Of course I wanted him to get in but I still don’t feel that it’s fair. I’m fortunate,” she said.
Margaret Peschock and Tammy Jackson’s children did not get into the program but they were still in good spirits.
“It’s fair the way they did it,” said Peschock, a kindergarten teacher in another school district. “I’m happy for those who got in. But more parents need to come out to meetings.”
For the parents who are disappointed, they can express their feelings by attending meetings and by voting to hold the district and Board of Education accountable, she said. If more parents did so, Peschock believes a full-time kindergarten program for everyone could have been in place sooner.
Jackson is a stay-at-home mother and said she will work with her daughter at home.
“I just hope it won’t affect her in the first grade,” she said, which seemed to be
“I’m just concerned about how they’re going to accommodate the kids in first grade,” said Shannon Sanford, whose child got into the Lanoka Harbor School’s kindergarten program.
The district's presentation on the pilot noted that with a full-time program, 30 percent more time will be spent on reading and literacy instruction while 46 percent more time will be dedicated to mathematics.
The transition from kindergarten to first grade could pose to be a problem, Dawn Costello said, recommending the district keep those students who were in full-time kindergarten together the following year. Costello’s child did not get in.
But District Supervisor for Language Arts Michelle Amos said the transition would be no different from other years, in which some students came from a full day of kindergarten while others did not.
“Our first grade teachers are well versed in differentiation and meeting the needs of the students,” she said. “It’s our ultimate goal to have it for everyone.”
The district will use the upcoming school year to evaluate the program, facilities, resources and more to determine if and when a full-time kindergarten program can be offered to all incoming students.
Feedback from parents varied, Amos said. Some were opposed, others disappointed and still others thrilled.
“Parents' concerns are legitimate,” she said, adding that the pilot isn’t necessarily ideal but it’s a step in the right direction. “Having it for everyone just isn’t feasible right now.”
Amos expects a class list for the three elementary schools to be set by mid August. Parents who were selected must decide whether they’re going to participate in the pilot program by Thursday, August 9. If any of the selected parents opt out of the program, the district will proceed down the list in numeric order until each class is full.
Attached are the results of the randomized selection.
Further information on the program, including the presentation unveiling the pilot and a FAQ sheet, can be found on the district’s website by clicking here.