What will you do to enact Full-Day Kindergarten?

TANYA ANDREWS:    

In order to enact Full Day Kindergarten, I will research, along with the other members of the board, the approach other districts similar to the Metuchen School District have taken, and study how they were able to encompass a Full- Day Kindergarten program in their districts. 


Secondly, I would research the costs involved in enacting this project.  Finally, I would reach out to the NJ state and federal governments by writing proposals for grants and subsidies to offset the costs for the constituents of Metuchen; especially since mandates for
Full- Day Pre-school are going to be placed upon the Metuchen School District shortly

 

 

FRAN BRENNAN:

I recognize that many Metuchen parents value full day kindergarten.  Before we make any changes to our kindergarten offering we need to study what the community as a whole wants.

 

I support the forming of a committee that would include representatives from all segments of the community to study our options.  It is estimated that 6 sections of full day kindergarten would cost over $500,000 per year. If we did have full day kindergarten I believe we would need 7 sections.  If we had to move the Central Office out of Moss School and pay rent downtown to make space for the additional kindergarten classes, it would cost much more than $500,000 per year. The State is also talking about mandating preschool for economically disadvantaged children. We would need to provide a classroom at Moss School for that as well if it were to happen.

 

At the next contract negotiation we can look at ways to change the structure of Kindergarten with either an extended school day or reevaluating the specials that the children have.  When the children have specials, the teachers have a contracted prep period.  Either an extended day, or if it's decided to eliminate certain specials, will have to be part of teacher contract negotiations.

 

If it was determined that going to full day kindergarten was best for Metuchen, we would need to agree on out how to fund it.  Due to the state imposed 4% cap that we have on budget increases, full day kindergarten could only be achieved if we have a second question, or cut other current offerings (second questions were strongly discouraged by the county superintendents this year).  There isn't any money available from the state in the form of grants or additional state aid to pay for full day kindergarten for I districts at this time.

 

 

EILEEN FROWENFELD:

Before we think about how to enact full day kindergarten, we should decide as a community whether we want full day kindergarten.  There are some families that support full day kindergarten and others who feel just as adamantly that we should not have it.  It is a question which would require substantial exploration and careful consideration with input from all areas of the community.  The superintendent has proposed an ad hoc committee be formed next year to examine the issue.

 

Several factors come into play.  First - educational benefits.  There is convincing evidence that children in low-income or disadvantaged areas will benefit from full day kindergarten.  The argument is less convincing in a district with our socio-economic profile.  Children develop at different rates.  They begin reading at different rates.  By third grade, most children are where they should be.  Our third grade NJASK scores for last year bear this out as they were the highest in the county.  Second - financial.  The superintendent has estimated that staffing would cost at least $500,000.  This does not include other associated costs, such as additional busing, lunch service, and educational resources.  Third - facilities.  Full Day Kindergarten might require the relocation of our administrative offices, generating rental fees.  Specials, such as art or music, might need to be provided in the homeroom.  Fourth - effect on the taxpayers.  Would we need to eliminate something else to pay for this?  It is a complex issue requiring careful examination.

 

 

MARY 'TERRY' KOHL:
While I personally favor all-day K, I am not certain that the majority of the community feels the same way, nor am I yet convinced that this would be a fiscally prudent move.  Mrs. Sinatra and I have had many conversations regarding this subject and feel that we need to form an Ad Hoc committee to thoroughly investigate the community's desire and the willingness to support such an endeavor.  Kindergarten is a non-mandated program and increased state aid and grants are not available to "I" districts. The Governor has also indicated a desire to mandate pre school programs.  If we were mandated to provide pre-school and had a full day Kindergarten program, we would need to move the board offices to another facility and bear those increased costs as well.

 

 

JoANN SABATINO FALKENSTEIN:

I think the Metuchen School District should seriously consider full-day kindergarten, with a discussion that includes the educational benefits of early literacy; the economics, both costs and savings to the community; and finally, whether the community is in favor of this plan. Full day kindergarten would promote early literacy and better prepare students for later grades. It would allow the district to challenge all its students to do the best work they can and offer early diagnosis and intervention of learning difficulties. I will work toward a public presentation of the real options available to making full-day kindergarten a reality, and the cost-benefit associated with its implementation--if Metuchen residents want it.


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