Community Family Government Schools

Kindergarten Cutoff Date Could Be Set in Stone

Est. Read Time: 2 mins

A degree of flexibility for incoming kindergartners that has been a tradition at Saucon Valley Elementary School could soon be a thing of the past.

At the Saucon Valley School Board’s Jan. 27 meeting, the board discussed a recommendation by superintendent Dr. Monical McHale-Small that a firm cutoff date of Sept. 1 be established–meaning children who are not five years old as of Sept. 1 would not be able to enroll in kindergarten until the following school year.

The current system in the Saucon Valley School District allows for some flexibility, because it allows children who turn five between Sept. 2 and Oct. 31 to be admitted to kindergarten “early” based upon the results of a skills assessment by the district.

“When we do that (assessment) we set up a potentially discriminatory situation, because students who have disabilities often are not able to reach those benchmarks, so we are thereby excluding students with disabilities from early admission to kindergarten,” McHale-Small said.

She added that the Pennsylvania School Code doesn’t require school districts to make provisions for early admission to kindergarten.

The Sept. 1 birthday cutoff date for entry to kindergarten is “very common” throughout Pennsylvania and “I think it’s good practice,” McHale-Small said.

Board solicitor Mark Fitzgerald also supports the proposed change.

He estimated that upwards of 90 percent of Pennsylvania school districts have a firm entry date of Sept. 1, and said there is a liability risk under the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) to not standardizing the date.

“I just don’t agree with that,” board member Susan Baxter said of the proposed change in admission policy.

“I think what we’re doing is we’re holding some people back that are ready, in the name of–we’re discriminating against people who aren’t ready,” she said. “What we’re doing is we’re looking at individual people, and, if we’re saying somebody’s ready, but because somebody else isn’t ready we’re going to hold you back, isn’t–to me–education. I’m sorry. Everybody should be given the opportunity that they need that’s appropriate for them.”

“Pretty soon we’re not going to have honors classes or AP classes for the same reason,” Baxter added.

McHale-Small responded to the criticism by explaining that once students are enrolled in kindergarten, “we do have opportunities for enrichment,” as well as the gifted program and grade acceleration.

“We are working under legal guidance here as well,” she added.

Board member Edward Inghrim and board president Michael Karabin both said they agreed with Baxter, although Karabin added that he’s willing to compromise on the issue in light of the concerns raised by the administration.

In other business at the meeting, the board unanimously approved a resolution not to raise taxes more than 1.9 percent this year, which is the maximum increase allowed under Pennsylvania’s Act 1 index without a special exception.

To exceed the maximum increase calculated according to the index, districts need to apply for an exception.

Video of the Jan. 27 meeting is posted on YouTube.


Subscribe to receive our newsletter in your inbox every Monday, Wednesday & Friday.

Please wait...

Thank you for subscribing!

About the author

Josh Popichak

Josh Popichak is the owner, publisher and editor of Saucon Source. A Lehigh Valley native, he's covered local news since 2005 and previously worked for Berks-Mont News and AOL/Patch. Contact him at

Leave a Comment