Kindergarten cut-off date controversy

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MESA COUNTY, Colo. Last week District 51 decided to make the cut-off date for children entering kindergarten earlier, but not everyone is embracing the change with open arms.

Children must turn five by July 15th in order to start kindergarten for the 2014-2015 school year. It's a change impacting families whose children were born between July 15th and September 15th, who otherwise would have potentially started school this fall and tonight District 51 hosted a meeting to answers questions for concerned parents...

Parents filled the room at tonight's meeting and many are concerned about the change and what it means for their kids’ education.

The new cut-off date for kindergartners in District 51 is expected to affect nearly 250 students in Mesa County. And Stephanie Lacount’s son is one of them.

“It's not giving him the opportunity. My son falls in the gray area, he's technically 11 days too young with this new rule to even attend kindergarten, which makes him ineligible to even try," said Lacount.

Lacount feels her child is ready for kindergarten and doesn't agree with the district's decision.

“It's too soon, it's not enough data, there's not enough perception of parents involved," said Lacount.

District 51 hosted an informational meeting for parents like Lacount to answer questions about the recent changes and to discuss the options parents do have.

“Students would go through an assessment to see if they're gifted and will be allowed in kindergarten. Also there are other options like other schools they could enter and then come back into our public school system," said Lesley.

District 51 Officials also showed the data backing up their decision.

“Students that are not five-years-old by the time they enter kindergarten, have a much higher rate of having reading difficulties all the way through 8th grade, they also have a much higher rate of retention," said Lesley.

Concerned grandmother, Charlene Pace, agrees with Lacount. She's not convinced the change is the best decision for the kids.

“Age being the entry cutoff, the way that they're accessing of entry [kindergarten entrance date], if they want to access it based on their abilities, I think that's good because most studies prove that age is not a determining factor," said Pace.

“My son is ready for kindergarten so he needs to be given that shot," said Lacount.

District 51 officials say parents have the option of sending their child to Juniper Ridge or Caprock. Juniper Ridge hasn't decided on their cut-off date and Caprock is sticking with the September 15th cut-off. Both are charter schools, however, Caprock is not a part of District 51.

If you are interested in enrolling in Caprock, you better hurry, the deadline is Thursday, February 27t, 2014 at 3:30 p.m.

If you weren't able to make it out to tonight's meeting and would like more information about the kindergarten entrance date change, you can call the Elementary Office at 254-5311.

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