Survey shows success at MDL kindergarten center

Transportation continues to be the biggest concern among parents according to a recent survey conducted by the Kennett Consolidated School District regarding the Mary D. Lang kindergarten center.

Last Monday night, superintendent Barry Tomasetti presented the results of the survey to the school board at their regular business meeting.

Given to every parent with a child at the kindergarten center, Tomasetti said the district received 202 responses – 113 from English speaking parents and 89 from Spanish speaking parents.

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With the 2011-12 school year the first for the full day kindergarten center, Tomasetti said the district has received feedback all year long from both parents and teachers as to what aspects of the program need to be tweaked.

“I think parents are very satisfied overall,” Tomasetti said.

According to the data, 62.7 percent of English responses said they were “very satisfied” with the overall kindergarten experience, versus 69.2 percent “very satisfied” in the Spanish responses.

A slight 1.8 percent of English responses came back as “very dissatisfied,” versus 6.6 percent in the Spanish responses.

Tomasetti said that the district added a flexible recess to the afternoons as well as extending the lunch period to give kids new to the lunchroom experience the opportunity acclimate slowly.

“There is still instructional time in the afternoon, and there is one recess period after lunch, but parents thought we needed that second recess,” he said.

Transportation, however, tops the lists of concerns, however, echoing a recent board meeting where a parent questioned the length of the ride her rising kindergartener would take next year.

Currently, students at the center board a bus in their neighborhoods and then change buses at their neighborhood school to be shuttled to Lang.

According to the report data, 20.2 percent of English responses were “dissatisfied,” while 11 percent were “very dissatisfied.” Consequently, only 2.2 percent of Spanish responses were “dissatisfied,” while 7.9 percent came back with “very dissatisfied.” In fact, 65.2 percent of Spanish responses were reported as “very satisfied.”

Last week, Tomasetti and business manager Mark Tracy conducted an experiment where they routed all buses to the center – sans students – to examine the logistics of the run.

“It was just too confusing, too many buses in one location,” Tomasetti said, adding that as the buses started stacking up they extended into intersections and down side streets. “It was very unsatisfactory.”

He added that while the shuttle method may make for a longer ride, the children are quite safe both during the ride and during the transfer at their neighborhood schools.

“We’ve been out to the schools and see the transfer and the teachers and aids and drivers all have it very well organized,” he said.

Tomasetti said that it was difficult to compare data from the half day program versus the whole day as they do not include similar cohorts.

“The growth in the students in full day versus half day is significant, the kids achieve much more and the teachers in first grade were able to say that the kids were much more prepared,” Tomasetti said.

Tomasetti said the district is satisfied with the full day kindergarten program, adding that despite board member Nick Perigo’s comment last week that the program could be eliminated, the program will remain intact in the near future.

“That would be one of the last resorts, we don’t want to touch instructional programs,” he said. “That is the last thing we would want to do, and our board is dedicated to providing the best instructional opportunities for our kids. We would do what we can to make sure the full day kindergarten program stayed intact.”