Of the Baker City Herald

Kindergartners will return to a half day of classes when school starts next fall.

The Baker School District's administrative team decided Friday to return to a morning and afternoon half-day schedule. The district offered a full day every other day for all Baker City kindergarten students during 2001-2002. The all-day program was implemented at Brooklyn Elementary School five years ago.

Under the half-day plan, students will alternate Friday attendance because of early release for all students as part of the district's Friday Forum, said Don Ulrey, incoming superintendent and director of curriculum and personnel.

Ulrey said the decision was made to return all schools to the half-day format after meeting with staff, parents and administrators. Parents also were asked to complete written surveys and then were interviewed by phone about the schedule.

Ulrey said the research is inconclusive about which system is most effective to meet the social, physical, emotional and cognitive needs of 5-year-olds. Although parents weren't overwhelmingly in favor of either schedule, the majority seemed to prefer the half-day schedule.

andquot;We're going through so many changes as a community and as a district, possibly parents are wanting to go back to the way things used to be,andquot; he said.

Next year's kindergarten teachers will be Bonnie Taie at Brooklyn Elementary; Melissa Garner, South Baker; and Sue Duby, North Baker. Kindergartners at Haines and Keating will attend class all day because teachers there are instructing combined classes, Ulrey said. Joanne Crutcher will teach kindergarten and first grade at Haines and Kathi Shaw will teach Grades K-4 at Keating Elementary.

Pat Braswell, South Baker Elementary principal, said most parents who favored the half-day plan believe that system provides the best education for the children. The alternating day-long plan was most popular with parents based on their scheduling needs.

andquot;We're just excited and we think it will work,andquot; said Gary Timms, Brooklyn principal. andquot;We think it will be good for kids.andquot;

Timms added that he expects the district to annually review schedules to determine the most effective program for students.