The writing has been on the wall since the Long Beach Unified School District and its teachers union reached an agreement on May 3, but the LBUSD today officially announced it will offer full-day kindergarten and transitional kindergarten (TK) programs this fall.
“We know that many parents are eager to take advantage of these extended learning opportunities,” LBUSD Superintendent Jill Baker said in a statement. “These all-day sessions will provide convenient, economical, developmentally appropriate instruction and learning experiences that prepare children for success in subsequent grade levels. We’re excited to offer these expanded programs.”
The district and its teachers had been discussing this move when the COVID-19 pandemic shut campuses down in March of 2020.
“This is actually one of the last big meetings we had before campuses closed,” LBUSD Board of Education member Megan Kerr said at Wednesday evening’s board meeting.
Some parents have long advocated for the change, which they said will help them save money on childcare in addition to providing more education.
“Historically, I know there were a lot of moms who stayed at home with their kids, so a mid-day pick-up or drop-off maybe made more sense,” parent advocate Alysa Turkowitz told the Post in December. “Now to live here most families have both parents working. It becomes a matter of equity. Affluent kids can go to private school or their parents can put them in a better after-school care program. I’ve heard that from so many parents I’ve spoken with, that it’s a burden to pay for care for their children while they’re working.”
In December, the district confirmed they’d be opening formal discussions about full-day programs with the Teachers Association of Long Beach. The May 3 tentative agreement they struck included a memorandum of understanding on the subject. With last night’s board meeting including a unanimous approval of the agreement, the district can officially move forward.
Prior to this fall, kindergarten programs typically were three to four hours, requiring parents to either have a mid-day pickup or dropoff or to use a childcare program on campus.
The district says that for 2022-23, TK classes are for students born between Sept. 2, 2017, and Feb. 2, 2018. Kindergarten will be for students born between Sept. 2, 2016, and Sept. 1, 2017.
Families can contact LBUSD’s Early Learning and Elementary Office at 562-997-8247 to ask about enrollment options.
The district also said parents who want to keep their students in a half-day program will have the option to pick them up after the state minimum number of instructional minutes.
“The extended day simply provides additional time for activities such as drama and art, including ample opportunities for outside, play-based learning,” according to the LBUSD announcement.