KINGSPORT — The General Assembly and Gov. Bill Haslam have addressed differing enrollment requirements for kindergarten and pre-K programs in Tennessee.
Legislation signed into law April 8 makes pre-K birth date requirements the same as kindergarten ones, which were changed by legislation last year.
The differing birth date cutoffs had caused some confusion, said Carol Briggs, coordinator of pre-K for Sullivan County public schools.
“They (state Department of Education officials) were telling us these (different dates) but that it was going to be corrected,” Briggs said.
Sullivan earlier this year publicized birth date requirements that eventually emerged from the new legislation, but Kingsport publicized pre-K requirements that didn’t match the new kindergarten ones.
The new law leaves in place last year’s law, which allows superintendents or directors to choose an assessment to determine if the students born in September are mature enough to go ahead into kindergarten. The old cutoff was Sept. 30.
Kingsport and Sullivan County schools held kindergarten and pre-K registration in March, while Hawkins County’s is set for April 29 and May 6.
The impact of this law on enrollment in pre-K programs for the next two years is as follows:
•Children must be 4 years old on or before Aug. 31, 2013, as well as meet other currently defined criteria to enroll in voluntary pre-K programs in 2013-14.
•Children must be 4 years of age on or before Aug. 15, 2014, as well as meet other currently defined criteria to enroll in voluntary pre-K in 2014-15.
Both those match the requirement to be 5 by Aug. 31 for kindergarten programs in 2013-14 and be 5 by Aug. 15, 2014, to enroll in kindergarten programs.
Until the law was changed last year, the birth date cutoff was Sept. 31 for kindergarten and preschool.
The new law also addresses kindergarten eligibility for the next two years as follows:
•Children enrolled in a local public school system-operated pre-K program, a Head Start program or a state accredited non-public school pre-K program in the 2012-13 school year who turn 5 between Sept. 1 and Sept. 30, 2013, are grandfathered in to kindergarten for the 2013-14 school year.
•And children enrolled in a local school system-operated pre-K, a Head Start program or a state accredited non-public school pre-K program in the 2013-14 school year who turn 5 between Aug. 16 and Aug. 31, 2014, are grandfathered in to kindergarten for the 2014-15 school year.
The accredited private school pre-K programs in the Tri-Cities include the Saint Dominic Child Development Center and After School Program in Kingsport and the Tri-Cities Christian Preschool and After School Program in Blountville.
The others in the Tri-Cities are four in Washington County: Ashley Academy, Central Baptist Preschool and Munsey Memorial Preschool, all in Johnson City, and the Tri-Cities Christian Preschool in Gray.