When the Los Angeles Unified school board considers the district's budget plan next Tuesday, it will also review a proposal to cut about 3,000 preschool seats and lengthen class time for four-year-olds in greatest need.
The School Readiness Language Development Program served more than 10,000 students last year by taking in one group of children in the morning and another in the afternoon.
Instead, Superintendent Ramon Cortines wants kids to stick around for the entire school day in a preschool program called Transitional Kindergarten so the district can grow the number of full-time students and receive more funding from the state.
Some preschool teachers worry the kids aren’t ready for six hours of school – with no nap time.
"We feel the change needs to be piloted, needs to be developmentally appropriate, and it needs to have input from teachers – and this had no input from teachers," said SRLDP teacher Ingrid Gunnell from Lane Elementary School in Monterey Park.
While Gunnell advocates in favor of keeping SRLDP's half-day schedule, board member Monica Ratliff said more time means more learning for the children.
“I think it will benefit them to have greater exposure to each other – the socialization aspect is very important – and I think the exposure to experiences," Ratliff said.
Ratliff supports pushing out the cutoff age for children allowed to enroll in Transitional Kindergarten so that students who turn five before March 31 would be eligible for a seat. That is four months later than the previous cutoff date.
Priority will be given to low-income students. A family of four will need to make less than $43,000 a year to qualify.
But options outside L.A. Unified's Transitional Kindergarten program are growing: the state budget plan negotiated by Gov. Jerry Brown and lawmakers calls for an additional $265 million to fund 7,000 more preschool seats and 6,800 child care seats while increasing the rate paid to providers.
The state budget plan is up for a vote by the legislature on Friday.