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Full-Day Kindergarten Makes a Big Splash

Enrollment figures outdistance district expectation as universal FDK gets ready to start.

“Leading the Way with Full-Day K!”

That’s the message that has been greeting motorists along Route 1 and I-95 this month from two Clear Channel electronic billboards.

And, judging by enrollment figures from the Bensalem Township School District, that exclamation point reflects the community’s enthusiasm.

Last year the district enrolled 120 students in full-day kindergarten classes, while 313 others had to attend half-day classes. Then, the district was successful in reaching a longtime goal of instituting universal full-day K. That means all students have access to the program, not just those who won a lottery drawing, eliminating the obvious disparity.

“Last year we serviced 120 students. This year, to date, 464 students have registered,” said Maribel Camps, the district’s director of elementary curriculum and instruction.  … We’ve gone from six classes to 21.”

Camps said the reaction from the community outdistanced the district’s expectations by five or six classes. As a result, she said, some half-day teachers were converted to full-day.

Bensalem is one of only two school districts in Buck County to offer universal full-day Kindergarten, the other being New Hope-Solebury.

“It’s very, very exciting and we’re hoping this opens the doors of Bensalem Public Schools to all of the Bensalem residents that maybe were not considering us but would give us a chance with the full-day  kindergarten classes,” said Camps.

Two days of registration were held in April but the district continues to accept applications. Those interested should apply at their neighborhood elementary school.

The full-day kindergarten message was the second on Clear Channel billboards as part of a district program begun this spring called Businesses For Schools (B4S). Clear Channel agreed to help the district publicize its accomplishments and events as a public service at no cost to the district.

“Our investment in early childhood education will hopefully make a big difference, and we thank Clear Channel for that opportunity,” said Camps. “They publicized the dream Bensalem has had the last five years.”

To date, B4S has generated more than $90,000 in services and donations in just six months from a generous business community.

Information provided by the Bensalem School District.

Amy Michael Lynn August 30, 2012 at 11:58 AM
Unless I missed something, your article is incorrect. Bristol township is full day kindergarten and has been for a while. It's one of the reasons I didn't really look forward to moving to Bensalem. Especially since when we did, my daughter was bored in 1st grade as the level of work was similar to what she did in fdk in Bristol township. I was very excited that Bensalem switched to fdk just in time for my second child to start school.
Carolynn Scott September 10, 2012 at 04:54 PM
I think it's great and I wish they would have had it when my kids went to school. I hope that other districts in the area will start it now, like Neshaminy.
George Birds September 19, 2012 at 05:42 PM
Let's stop and think about this for a minute. Great districts like Council-Rock, Pennsbury, and Neshaminy don't have universal FDK. What does Bensalem know that they don't. It's pretty obvious that Bensalem calculated the inflated cost of funds they have to pay charter schools for these same kids, and figured they could save money. Pretty smart, but let's not make this out to be about better education.

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