Extended School Year For Some Las Cruces Students

Las Cruces – Sixty-one incoming kindergarten students are participating in a new pilot extended school year program that is providing them with 25 additional full days of instruction at three LCPS elementary schools: C sar E. Ch vez Elementary School (30 students), Hermosa Heights Elementary (20 students) and Central Elementary (11) students.

The program, called Start Smart K-3 Start Smart: New Mexico K-3 Plus Extended School Year-Validation Study, began July 5 and continues through August 8, 2011, said Principals Carmen Gallegos-Marrujo (C sar E. Ch vez Elementary), Joe Mestres (Hermosa Heights Elementary) and Eloisa Solis (Central Elementary). More than 7,000 students are participating statewide, according to

At C sar E. Ch vez Elementary, Kathleen Kelly and Beatriz Pando are the teachers. The teachers at Hermosa Heights Elementary are Rosemary Martos and Blanca Carrasco. At Central Elementary, the teacher is Saul Arzapalo, with Becky Chavez serving as educational assistant.

"Instruction is focused on literacy, math, oral language development and social skills," said Gallegos-Marrujo. Students were randomly selected for participation in the program and were assessed before it started to determine baseline academic levels. The children begin their day at 7:55 a.m. with breakfast in the classroom and have lunch at 11:00 a.m. Dismissal is at 2:30 p.m., with transportation provided to and from home, she said.

"The first week has already proven to be a success, as students have adapted positively to a full day of instruction," said Solis. "Parents and teachers are eager to participate in the successful transition to kindergarten," she said.

Smart Start was set up to determine the cost-effectiveness of the state's K-3 Plus program in reducing the achievement gap for students. It will continue for four additional years. "Parents form an integral part of the program, and receive monetary compensation for their children's participation in the study," said Gallegos-Marrujo.

Parents with children who will attend an LCPS kindergarten during the 2011-12 school year and who would like to participate in the program, which will continue for four additional years, can contact participating schools:

C sar E. Ch vez Elementary, Principal Carmen Gallegos-Marrujo: 575.527.6022;

Central Elementary School, Principal Eloisa Solis: 527.9496;

Hermosa Heights Elementary: Principal Joe Mestres: 527.9530.

The program is being conducted through Utah State University, in conjunction with New Mexico State University, the New Mexico Public Education Department and the New Mexico Office of Educational Accountability, said Gallegos-Marrujo. Public funding is provided by the U.S. Department of Education, with in-kind donations from LCPS and other school districts. Private funding is provided by the W. K. Kellogg Foundation, the Rural School and Community Trust, the Education Collaborative Fund, the Annie E. Casey Foundation. In-kind donations also come from Pearson Publishing, Riverside Publishing and Brookes Publishing. Innovate+Educate New Mexico and Sandia National Laboratories also made contributions.

"The program provides entering kindergarteners with additional time and experiences needed to acclimate to a new environment and to prepare for the coming year", said LCPS Director of Elementary Instruction Dr. Elizabeth Marrufo, who oversees the project at the district level.

For more information, contact Marrufo at .