To comply with a new law that brings Michigan in line with 38 other states, local school districts are spreading the word to parents of incoming kindergartners about new rules for the 2013-14 school year.
Public Act 198 of 2012 gradually moves back the cutoff age for incoming kindergartners, changing the date children have to turn 5 years old by from Dec. 1 to Nov. 1 for 2013. That date will be moved back to Oct. 1 for the 2014-15 school year and finally changed to Sept. 1 for the 2015-16 school year, where it will remain to make sure children are 5 years old before they enter public school.
Lake Shore Public Schools Superintendent Christopher Loria said the fact that the moved-up date is being phased in throughout three school years means that it will have only a small impact on the district each year.
“The older they come to us, the more prepared they are for school,” he said. “But every kid is different. There’s some students that are ready at 4.
“In the long run, we’ve been talking about it for years in education, so now it’s happening.”
The new rules will affect all kindergartners in the state.
“I think, this year, it’s not going to be that big of a difference because there is a waiver that’s available that they can sign,” said Chelsey Kuester, public relations liaison for Lake Shore Schools. “But as it goes on for 2014-15, it goes back to October, and in 2015-16, it’s Sept. 1 and we don’t necessarily know if there’s going to be a waiver.”
Kuester said parents sending their kindergartner to a school in a district they reside in have until June 1 to file a waiver, if their child’s birthday is between Nov. 1 and Dec. 1 and they wish to send the child to kindergarten. She said if they send their child to a district using School of Choice, that deadline is Aug. 1.
“This year, it’s more important that just parents know that, if their kids fall within that one month, that they can still enroll their student” in kindergarten with the waiver, if they wish, Kuester said.
Lake Shore Public Schools has posted the new rules on its website under the “Kindergarten Enrollment Information” link, which also spells out that anyone moving into the district after June 1 has until Aug. 1 to file a waiver, if they wish their child — with a birthday between Nov. 1 and Dec. 1 — to attend kindergarten in 2013.
He said looking at 2012-13 enrollment statistics, only a handful of students in the district would have been affected by the change this year.
“Financially, you take a hit for those in the short run, but in the long run, if it’s best for kids, that’s what we need to do,” he said. “I don’t anticipate there’ll be a lot of people using the waiver, only because it is a one-month difference.”
Kuester said some parents are already calling to inquire about kindergarten, but some don’t think about it until the summertime. But the districts wanted to call attention to the new rules because “it’s important for parents for all the districts to get the information,” she said.
To find out more, visit www.lakeshoreschools.org or contact your local school district.