Report: A third of Manatee County children not ready for kindergarten

MANATEE -- Manatee County commissioners Tuesday expressed concern that about 33 percent of the county's children are not ready for kindergarten.

That's 5 percentage points higher than the statewide average of 28 percent of pupils found to be "not kindergarten ready," according to 2012-13 statistics presented during a workshop session about programs the county funds for children.

"We're worse than the state average," said Brenda Rogers, director of the county's Community Services Department, which oversees about 65 programs designed to aid needy children.

Within 30 days of beginning school, every kindergartner takes a "readiness" test, which measures skills like alphabet recognition, or whether he or she can write their name, said Jennifer Radebach, a member of the Manatee County Children's Services Advisory Board.

The statistics on school readiness included in the board's draft annual plan were based upon test results, she said.

About 17,417 youngsters from birth to age 4 live in Manatee County, according to statistics included in the plan reviewed by the commission at a workshop.

Sara Kennedy, Herald reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7031. Follow her on Twitter @sarawrites.