Parents who had planned to enroll their children in transitional kindergarten turned out at a meeting of the school board Tuesday night to protest the district’s decision to cancel the program for kids whose fifth birthdays fall after a new school entrance cutoff date.
“It’s very disheartening; it’s very frustrating,” said James Taylor, the father of a 4-year-old.
The San Francisco Unified School District’s decision, announced two days before the deadline for kindergarten admissions applications, was prompted by Gov. Jerry Brown’s 2012-13 budget proposal, which eliminates funding for the program.
A 2010 state law gradually increases the age at which children become eligible for kindergarten, moving eligible birthdays from Dec. 2 in 2011 to Sept. 1 by 2014. It also requires districts to offer an optional year of transitional kindergarten to children whose birthdays fall between the old and new dates.
It is unclear whether the provision will be enforced if the governor does not provide funding. However, legislators have suggested the district’s decision was illegal.
“It’s the law, and the Legislature passed that law, and I think we certainly expect our school districts to be implementing it,” Assemblywoman Susan Bonilla, D-Contra Costa, said during a recent budget committee hearing.
Julia Gray, the mother of a 4-year-old who would have been in transitional kindergarten this fall, asked the school board to grant waivers to allow children such as hers to enter regular kindergarten.
“If she had been born a few days earlier, she would be in kindergarten this fall,” Gray said.