Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Beefed-up kindergarten shelved

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IMPROVEMENTS to Manitoba's kindergarten and implementation of widespread public school pre-kindergarten?

Not here, not any time soon.

School boards won't raise the issues with the provincial government until at least this time next year.

And they booed a few of their own during heated debate Friday at the annual convention of the Manitoba School Boards Association.

Trustees sent resolutions back for further study by narrow margins that would have called on the Selinger government to make kindergarten enrolment mandatory -- compulsory schooling starts in Grade 1 -- and to urge the province to fund a pre-kindergarten school year.

Winnipeg School Division has a pre-kindergarten nursery program, but pays the entire annual cost of about $4 million out of property taxes.

Brandon School Division trustee Linda Ross raised some hackles and drew some boos when she chided trustees who demanded far more information on a pre-kindergarten school year before taking any action.

Ross said the issue has been studied and reported on for years, and that the benefits of preschool education are significant and widely known.

"Take your heads out of the sand," Ross told fellow delegates, some of whom didn't take kindly to her suggestion.

"I'm really concerned trustees are so unenlightened on this subject. They are coming here completely unprepared," said Ross.

nick.martin@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition March 20, 2010 A4

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