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Transitional kindergarten to be offered by district in fall

By: Stephanie Dumm, News Messenger Reporter
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The Western Placer Unified School District will offer transitional kindergarten in the fall, despite a lack of state funding. The district will offer transitional kindergarten to children who turn 5-years-old between Nov. 2 and Dec. 2, according to the district’s Deputy Superintendent of Educational Services Mary Boyle. That’s because incoming kindergartners must be 5-years-old before Nov. 1 for the 2012-2013 school year, according to Boyle. At the Feb. 21 school board meeting, Boyle said the district would not offer transitional kindergarten due to a lack of state funding but would give parents information about district preschools, according to previous News Messenger reports. “Since that time, we’ve been advised we should plan for transitional kindergarten,” Boyle said. “Legal experts” advised the school district, according to Boyle, who said she was told that transitional kindergarten “was mandated even if there isn’t funding” from the state. The first transitional kindergarten will be at Twelve Bridges Elementary School, Boyle said, “because of space.” If the district has more than 24 to 26 students in transitional kindergarten, Boyle said, an additional class would be offered at Creekside Oaks Elementary School “to spread it across the district.” In other district news, the cost of riding a school bus in the district will increase by 10 percent, starting next school year. “In the governor’s proposed budget, he is proposing to eliminate all of the transportation budget,” said Joyce Lopes, the district’s assistant superintendent of business services. Lopes said the cost of bussing kids to school will now be funded through the general fund and the 10 percent increase to the cost of bus passes will “partially offset the impact to the general fund.” The fee parents pay to bus their child to school “doesn’t cover the total cost,” Lopes said, and cost to the district to bus a student to school is $750 to $800 per student. The regular cost for one bus pass per family will now be $140 for half a year and $250 for a full year in 2012-2013 and reduced-price bus passes will be $70 per student for half a year and $125 for a full year, according to the 2012-2013 application for school bus transportation provided in the school board meeting packet. “We transport 100 students (this year) and they are all outside of the city limits,” Lopes said. Lopes said the “revenue stream” for transportation was “completely removed” from this year’s budget. “It’s no fun to have to do that but I don’t see how we can avoid getting that money back,” said board member Brian Haley. Board president Damian Armitage said it would “have an impact on families” but that it “makes up for money in the budget.”