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Public kindergarten starting age to be increased

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RALEIGH -- Four-year-olds will soon have to wait to go to school. Beginning in 2009 a new state law says a child must wait a bit longer to start public kindergarten. Under the new law more than 15,000 children in North Carolina will have to wait until they turn five to start school. The current birthday cutoff is October 16. In 2009 the new school age cutoff will be August 31. Education experts say it's hard for four-year-olds to keep up physically and academically with classmates who are up to two years older. The extra year will give kids more time to mature. Some local parents responded to the bill with mixed reactions. Some of those opposed worry keeping kids out of school means another year of child-care costs. Cathy Bland is against the bill. She said, "I work shift work, so it's hard to find, and I work 12-hour shifts. So it's kind of hard to find childcare to accommodate a 12-hour parent… It would take a lot out of us financially -- it'll be a financial burden." Jessica Eason is for the bill. She said, "It would be best for the mother to keep them home as long as they can since childhood doesn't last long. They can get them prepared at home." Some lawmakers hope the new law will raise kids' test scores and lower teacher frustration. The senate voted unanimously for the bill Thursday. Gov. Easley says he will sign it into law.

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