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The city of Beverly Hills and the Beverly Hills Unified School District continue to work toward implementing a universal transitional kindergarten program, and the City Council on June 14 allocated more than $180,000 to hire four more childcare counselors.
According to a staff report, the program would impact the city’s afterschool enrichment/childcare services, and more childcare counselors would be needed to appropriately staff summer camp classrooms.
Councilman Robert Wunderlich said the effort was part of a larger initiative – to have a “truly stellar” early children education center in Beverly Hills that would attract young families to Beverly Hills.
“I’m so heartened by this,” he said. “This is excellent progress. It shows the excellent collaboration.”
In 2021, Gov. Gavin Newsom signed Assembly Bill 130, which established universal transitional kindergarten in the state. Although the BHUSD has offered transitional kindergarten for more than 10 years, the district is looking to expand the program to include all students who turn four years old by Sept. 1, beginning with the 2025-26 school year.
The staff report states that BHUSD’s kindergarten program could potentially extend to some four-year-old students beginning in 2022-2023, depending on the student’s birthday, and that the implementation of the program could affect city preschools and childcare services.
Wunderlich referenced the ongoing construction at El Rodeo Elementary School and said that, when completed, it could potentially house many of the programs.
“I think it’s great that we’re going to be starting something as early as this fall, and we’ll continue to build from that, and when we have the extra facilities, it can take a quantum step forward,” he added.
Wunderlich, who serves as a liaison on the council/BHUSD committee, suggested that the city provide a subsidy for the programming in the near future. Councilman Lester Friedman supported that sentiment.
“I think this is excellent,” Friedman said. “I think this is an area that we’re stepping right into. We see that there is a need for it.”
He said there is a lot of interest to expand the early childhood programs now, and that he believes the program will blossom when it begins. Friedman also praised the collaboration with the BHUSD.
“I think we’ve really moved ahead working with them in partnership, which is the way it should be,” he said.
Councilman John Mirisch said he supports the program, and that free and subsidized preschool and childcare would be a “great attractor” for families looking to relocate to Beverly Hills.
“I would love to see us go to the next level sooner rather than later,” he added.
Vice Mayor Julian Gold said he would like to see a more clear vision for the program so that the community could have a better understanding of what the council and district are looking to accomplish. However, he said he supports the overall mission.
“I’m sure that there are going to be a lot of people in this community who are very excited about it,” Gold added.
Mayor Lili Bosse said she wished the program was already in place.
“I think it is absolutely why we’ve loved Beverly Hills – because of the sense of neighborhood, because of the sense of an extended family, and that started from a very young age,” she said.
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