SVVSD’s first free full-day kindergarten offered at Twin Peaks Charter Academy
December 14, 2018
Beginning in January 2019, Twin Peaks Charter Academy (TPCA) in Longmont will be the first school in St. Vrain Valley School District (SVVSD) to offer full-day kindergarten free of charge. Prior to this opportunity, TPCA offered either free morning or afternoon kindergarten classes. Families wanting their children in a full-day program were charged nearly $2,700 per school year, because Colorado does not provide funding beyond a half-day of instruction.
According to TPCA’s director, Joseph Mehsling, about 50 percent of the kindergarten population is presently enrolled in the full-day program.
“Most parents want full-day kinder opportunities,” Mehsling said. “It’s a matter of being able to afford it.”
The decision to waive tuition, Mehsling said, was because it offers better instruction opportunities to students, helping them to hit the ground running in first grade.
“There’s a noticeable preparedness difference with full-day students as they go into first grade,” Mehsling said.
Curriculum for full-day kindergarten students “isn’t work, work, work,” Mehsling said because they’re little ones, but it does give teachers more time to teach basic skills such as literacy, numeracy, and motor skills.
The conversation to reach this decision was a “big picture view” because the fees being charged to each family resulted in a small percentage of overall school operating costs. Billing and collecting those fees were costing the school money as well. But more importantly, if charging the fee was preventing students from being able to take advantage of a full-day of instruction, the TPCA board of directors felt it was best to forgo charging for the additional learning time.
“That’s the beauty of being a charter school, we’re a little more nimble and can make decisions like this quickly,” Mehsling said. He brought the figures and statistics to the board of directors and “they were all in,” he said, in order to expand opportunities for the students.
Open for 20 years, TPCA is a K-12 school, focused on classical education. Classical education, also referred to as liberal arts, involves teacher-centered instruction with a focus on building the basics, building character, and addressing how students learn.
“Where we’re very different is that St. Vrain has become very specialized,” Mehsling said. “All the high schools are starting to offer focus programs that are a little more narrow and a little more rigid. We want a kid ready to go off to college with a broad background and the ability to tackle anything.”
Present enrollment at TPCA is close to 800 students, with varying numbers of students in each grade. Mehsling said they are hoping to “thoughtfully grow the enrollment” to 1350 kids in five years, with each grade being comprised of 90-100 students.
SVVSD’s open enrollment period is currently underway through Dec. 17, but the school does accept new students all year round. Families interested in sending their students to TPCA are encouraged to take an informational tour. Visit Twin Peaks Charter Academy for more details.