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Is This School District Budget Option Legal?

District, union disagree with kindergarten group over legality of cutting kindergarten

Ada Hand, president of the California Kindergarten Association, sent Patch this message when asked about Fairfield-Suisun Unified School District's consideration of suspending Kindergarten for one year:

"School districts are required, per State Education Code 48000 to offer kindergarten if there are children of appropriate age within the district's boundaries.  Parents are not required to enroll children in kindergarten, thus causing some to think the grade is not mandated.  But schools must continue to offer (kindergarten)."

Kelly Morgan, Assistant Superintendent of the Fairfield-Suisun Unified School District, listed kindergarten as one of a few things "not mandated" by the state, part of a list of big-ticket items the school district was looking at as a way to cut $6.5 million from its budget for the 2012-2013 school year. The district board of trustees may vote on the matter on Thursday at 6 p.m. at district headquarters on Hilborn Road in Fairfield.

Doug Appel, a representative with the California Teachers Association who works with Fairfield-Suisun teachers, looked up the education code 48000 and came up with a different interpretation than Hand did. Appel found an education code that cited compulsory education starts at age 6, first grade.

"In fact, it would be an interesting court case if the kindergarten association wanted to bring it," Appel said.

The California Board of Education referred questions to the California Kindergarten Association.

But the bottom line is no one thinks cutting kindergarten is good for education.

"We think, and the superintendent would share this concern, that it would be a terrible thing to do," he said.

Appel said the union and the district don't have a problem so much with each other as they do with the state.

"We've cut everything that we can think of to cut," he said.

What do you think? Is kindergarten required? What would you do for day care if it was taken away for a year?

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