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DISTRICT SAYS EXPANSION TO A FULL DAY HELPS PUPILS

City school district officials say the move to all-day kindergarten has benefited pupils -- especially in the area of early learning.

Daniel "Deke" Kathman, director of elementary and remedial education, in a report to School Board members this week, noted that teachers now have more time to spend with the children in "whole group instruction."

"Whether that's in pre-literacy skills or math skills that we have in line for kindergarten (as well as) science and health, we have more time to get at that instruction," said Kathman.

He said the district compiled statistics that compare how students who have had a half-day of kindergarten fare against those who are now in the full-day program.

"The most challenging skill that we've had as a target in kindergarten (is) using your knowledge of letter sounds to create words -- the encoding part of the reading and writing process," Kathman said. "Nineteen percent of our children were leaving half-day kindergarten with that skill. That has increased with full day to 50 percent of our children."

He also indicated that teachers, staff and parents are "very happy" with having the full-day program in place.

In other matters, the board:

Heard that renovation work at Lincoln Elementary School is ahead of schedule. School Business Director Dale Weatherlow said that means the school will be open in time for the 2001-2002 academic year.

"(The contractors) see no reason whatsoever why it wouldn't be open in time. In fact, they're really hoping it will be done before next summer even arrives," Weatherlow said.

This week, Weatherlow also was appointed assistant superintendent of administration. School officials said he will oversee the Human Resource Department, as well as continuing his duties as business director. No salary changes were disclosed.

Approved purchasing a bus garage on Allen Street for $400,000. Weatherlow noted that the district is almost ready to close on the deal.

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