SPUSD to Expand TK Program

First published in the Jan. 14 print issue of the South Pasadena Review.

Transitional kindergarten at South Pasadena Unified School District will be expanding in the coming years, in accordance with California legislation.
By the 2025-26 school year, SPUSD will be serving 12 months of transitional kindergarten for students who will have a 4th birthday by Sept. 1.
“Having a two-year kinder program is a gift,” said Christiane Gervais, assistant superintendent of instructional services, at the board’s Tuesday meeting. “For a school district, it’ll come with some challenges because we’ll have 4 year olds on campus and 4 year olds have different developmental needs. But in the end, it’s good for kids.”
Gov. Gavin Newsom signed the TK-12 Education Trailer Bill (AB 130) in July. The legislation detailed multiple changes in education, including expanding the currently optional transitional kindergarten so that all school districts offer it to their 4 year olds by 2025-26.
Starting in the 2022-23 school year, the TK enrollment cutoff will be pushed back two months every year, increasing the amount of time a student will spend in TK.
For example, a student whose 5th birthday falls on or between Sept. 2 and Feb. 2 will have five months of transitional kindergarten for the 2022-23 school year. In 2023-24, a student whose birthday is on or between Sept. 2 and April 2 will have seven months of TK.
With a two-month expansion every school year, SPUSD is essentially adding an entire grade level with the goal of preparing students as best as possible for kindergarten.
The district will be receiving a $140,369 grant to aid in the expansion. What the district can use the money for is still in development, but SPUSD is taking into consideration available classroom space, staffing and credential requirements, curricula and furniture.
The plan will have board approval before June.
“That is the biggest challenge with all of this,” Superintendent Geoff Yantz said. “We are a district that doesn’t receive the same amount of funding as others on a [per]-student basis. When you talk about your expenses, it’s not only for the teacher but everything else that goes into it.”
Transitional kindergarten first came about with the introduction of the Kindergarten Readiness Act of 2010. It changed the birth eligibility for students so that they had to turn 5 by Nov. 1 to begin kindergarten in the 2012-13 school year.
With the changing expectations for students, the state wanted those entering kindergarten to be older and more prepared, and TK was introduced.
“I was on the board when we first started to roll in the TK program,” board member Michele Kipke said, “and I wasn’t entirely sure how it was going to work, but it’s pretty clear that those kids get so much out of that year. To be able to offer it in this way, it’s a lot of work, but it’s just so good for our kids.”