Greenwich Schools Chief Urges Parents to Plan for Earlier Kindergarten Cutoff Date

A new state cutoff for Kindergarten entry next fall moves the date a child must turn 5 from Jan 1 back to Sept 1.

Next fall, a new law in Connecticut will require that children turn 5 by Sept 1, 2024 to enroll for the 2024-2025 school year. Pictured, Kindergarten students at Hamilton Avenue during story telling. File photo, 2015.

In Greenwich the school district is eager to raise awareness of the new cutoff date in advance in case families need to make plans for another year of pre-K.

The law – Section 1 of Public Act 23-208 – also impacts how many Kindergarten sections to plan for in each of Greenwich’s 11 grade schools: New Lebanon, Hamilton Avenue, Glenville, Parkway, Julian Curtiss, North Street, Cos Cob, North Mianus, International School at Dundee (ISD), Riverside, and Old Greenwich.

Reached by phone this week, Dr. Toni Jones, Greenwich Public Schools superintendent said the district wants to connect with local families now.

“It really could throw off our planning,” Jones said. “We want to be partners with our families – also, acknowledging that we have to follow the new law.”

Jones said depending on families’ response to the new cut off date, “It could mean a couple hundred of extra kindergartners.”

Families with children in Greenwich Public Schools Pre-K program are easy to reach, and families who already have children in public school receive emails from the district, but others may not be aware of the new law.

The current cut-off date is Jan 1, which means parents this year can send send their 4-year-old to kindergarten as long as they turn 5 before the new year.

With the Sept 1 cut-off date becoming effective July 1, 2024, it’s important for the school district to connect with all families planning to send children to kindergarten next fall – especially those with birthdays in September, October, November or December.

Readiness and Assessments

The legislation is written so that a parent may request to continue on for kindergarten and a readiness assessment may be given by the district, or existing data already from their Pre-K program may meet what is necessary.

Dr. Jones explained that families of children whose birthday doesn’t make the new cut-off date can request a conference later in the year to talk about readiness.

“They will let us know what their desires are, and we’ll look at readiness their preschool has and our team can help assess and advise,” she said.

Dr. Jones said the new law came about in part because Connecticut has a much later cutoff date than most states.

“We had a really late date in Connecticut. Typically, across the country, the date falls between Sept 1 and Sept 30,” Jones said.

A week ago, the district sent out surveys to families with children in Greenwich Public Schools Pre-K, and Jones said so far about a third of the respondents said they would keep their child in Pre-K another year.

About a third want their child to go into Kindergarten in the fall.

About a third want to schedule a conference.

“A lot of parents already hold their kids out for an extra year – ‘red shirted kindergartners,'” Jones said. “Or they could have a summer birthday and they they want their child to have another year before starting Kindergarten.”

Jones said there are a variety of reasons parents wait a year.

“Some may want the child to enter Kindergarten already reading, or for sports – maybe they want them to be bigger and taller when they’re older.”

“There’s such a wide range,” Jones said. “You never think of a 2, 3 and 4 year old being in the same class with the same ability, but suddenly in Kindergarten, they’re all supposed to be learning at the same rate.”

On a statewide basis, according to a memo from Commissioner of the Office of Early Childhood Beth Bye  and Commissioner of the CT Dept of Education Charlene Russell-Tucker to school superintendents and early care and education providers, an estimated 9,000 children will be unable to automatically enroll in 2024-2025 because they won’t have turned five by Sept 1.

The memo emphasizes the importance of supporting children in rural areas and students with IEPs to the greatest extent possible so they can access high quality pre-school opportunities for one more year.

The memo notes that the state expects districts will experience significantly lower enrollment in Kindergarten in fall 2024, and a potentially smaller grade cohort moving through the education system.

If you know a local family whose child is not in Greenwich Pubic Schools preschool, please share the Kindergarten Entrance Form so that the district can have a good understanding of future students’ desired placements.