This 2012-13 academic school year marks the first time in more than a century that a new grade level -- transitional kindergarten -- is being offered to some students.
Transitional kindergarten was created by the Kindergarten Readiness Act, authored by state Sen. Joe Simitian, D-Palo Alto, and signed by then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger in September 2010.
The legislation targets children who are too young to enter regular kindergarten and changed the minimum age a student can enter kindergarten.
The two-year program does not involve bringing new, younger students into classes, but rather it accommodates students born between the old kindergarten cutoff date, Dec. 2, and the new cutoff date, which is being moved up a month at a time over the next three years to Sept. 1.
Transitional kindergarten will feature a more age-appropriate curriculum for that first year before the students move onto regular kindergarten the second year.
An estimated 40,000 students around the state will be offered the transitional kindergarten curriculum this year, and eventually about 125,000 children will be eligible once the program is fully phased in by 2015.
The new grade level is the first in California since 1891, according to Simitian, who said in a statement that transitional kindergarten "will get kids off to a strong start at no additional cost to the state.
In Los Gatos, children aged 4 years old and up, born between Nov. 1 and Dec. 1, have the option to participate in the transitional kindergarten program offered by the .
Bitsey Stark, assistant superintendent of curriculum and instruction for LGUSD, said that 18 children had registered for the 2012-13 program in May.
One student will be attending at , eight at , two at and seven at , she said.
The program will be phased into the district over the next three years, Stark explained, and each year the cut-off birth date for enrollment will be set back.
For the 2013-14 school year, 4-year-olds born between Oct. 1 and Dec. 1 will be eligible. For 2014-15, students must be born between Sept. 1 and Dec. 1. The birth date requirements will then stay at this range.
—Bay City News Service