By MAX FILBY
Beginning this fall, Arlington kindergarten students will be going to school all day.
The change comes as the district tries to better compete with other districts and as the state increases curriculum requirements for kindergarten classes, Superintendent Kevin Haught said.
“We’ve kind of looked at it for a couple of years, and we decided it was time to pull the trigger,” Haught said.
The district was apparently losing some of its students to other districts that have full-day kindergarten, even though some of them came back to the district for the remainder of their education.
“We’d see some kids go and come back, but we’d rather be able to keep these kids here for their entire educational experience,” Haught said.
With increases in curriculum, Haught said the full-day option will allow more than two additional hours of classroom time. The district also plans to hire one new teacher as part of making the switch to full-day kindergarten.
“We felt to get them the content they need that this was what we needed to do,” Haught said.
Arlington joins four other districts out of the eight Hancock County schools offering full-day kindergarten.
Riverdale has offered full-day kindergarten for the past 10 years, said Superintendent Eric Hoffman. Hoffman called the option of having all-day kindergarten a “no brainer.”
“I think it’s definitely an advantage for the kids,” Hoffman said. “It better prepares them and moves them forward to being able to take the (Ohio Achievement Assessments).”
While Riverdale has long had all-day kindergarten, districts such as McComb and Arcadia still don’t, but that doesn’t mean those districts are against the idea. McComb Superintendent Meri Skilliter said changes in spaces would need to happen to allow for all-day kindergarten.
“I don’t know. I don’t think we have the space right now,” Skilliter said. “We would definitely be interested in it, but I don’t think it will happen for a while.”
Arlington isn’t the only district where officials recently considered lengthening the kindergarten school day. Van Buren has been approached by members of the community and is considering looking into starting all-day kindergarten for the 2015-16 academic year, Superintendent Tim Myers said.
The district currently has what it calls “half time” kindergarten during which some students come for half-day on some days and a full day on others, Myers said. Previously, Van Buren school officials discussed the possibility of lengthening the kindergarten day a few years ago when the state considered mandating students go for a full day.
“When the state backed off on that mandate and chose to implement some other mandates, it sort of became less of a priority for the time being,” Myers said.