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San Diego Unified UTK Commitment

News Release: San Diego Unified UTK Commitment Continues
Posted on 05/18/2023


*Edited video b-roll of San Diego Unified UTK classes is available here


San Diego Unified UTK Commitment Continues with Additional Teacher Supports for New School Year

May 18, 2023

San Diego - In recognition of the critical role that Universal Transitional Kindergarten (UTK) plays in laying a foundation for long-term student success, San Diego Unified School District has collaborated with the San Diego Education Association (SDEA) to identify new resources to improve social-emotional and academic outcomes for its youngest learners.

San Diego Unified is among the state’s early adopters of UTK, launching the grade level that precedes kindergarten in 2021, five years ahead of a state requirement.

For the 2023-24 school year, at least 24 additional UTK classrooms are set to be added across San Diego Unified campuses to better accommodate strong interest in the program. Following a meeting between district and SDEA leaders earlier this year, new UTK enhancements have been created, including: new research-based teaching plans to help guide instruction, parent workshops, opportunities for workday professional development sessions, funding for instructional materials, and a communication platform dedicated to a new community of UTK educators.

“UTK educators have been working to support our students and advocate for the resources and supports they need to build a quality program that meets the needs of our youngest learners,” said Lisa Morris, 28-year Kinder/TK educator and SDEA Vice President.

This school year, more than 4,300 students attend a UTK classroom at one of 118 schools in the district, up from 54 schools and roughly 1,800 students at the start of its inaugural year. Based on current trends, enrollment is projected to increase by about 24 percent next school year. To enroll in UTK, a child must turn 4 years old by Sept. 1. 

“UTK provides 4-year-olds across San Diego with early learning experiences that contribute to the social-emotional and academic growth essential for lifelong success. While I’m proud of what we have been able to provide for thousands of students and families, adding an entirely new grade level has not been without growing pains,” said Board of Education Vice President Shana Hazan. “It is through meaningful ongoing collaboration with our educators and families that we will build a UTK environment that allows all students to thrive.”

Students in UTK are not only exposed to academic fundamentals such as reading and math, but important social-emotional skills including peer interaction, exploration, problem-solving, and self-discovery. Additionally, child interest is considered when activities are planned, and free time and play are incorporated throughout the day. 

“UTK lays important groundwork at a critical age for much of what students will need to flourish throughout their education. It’s important that we listen to our educators and families as we expand this program with purpose and care,” said Deputy Superintendent Dr. Fabiola Bagula. “Our goal is to help prepare all students to be successful in kindergarten and beyond. UTK absolutely helps them get there.”

District leaders continue to collaborate with SDEA to strengthen UTK and meet the needs of staff, students, and families.  

Space is still available for UTK at some schools in the 2023-24 school year. For more information on San Diego Unified’s UTK program, or how to enroll a child, click here.

Contact: Maureen Magee, [email protected]