Town task force supports full-day kindergarten

Monday, December 22, 2008 6:26 AM EST
By Rachael Scarborough King, Register Staff

NORTH BRANFORD — A task force exploring kindergarten options has recommended that the school district implement a full-day program.

But with financial stresses caused by the adverse economic climate, the cost of all-day kindergarten might be too steep, Superintendent of Schools Robert Wolfe said.

The group’s report put the cost for the school district — including doubling the number of kindergarten teachers — at about $330,000.

Yet, the task force also found that educational research has shown “academic, social, and literacy development benefits of a full-day kindergarten curriculum.”

The report also says that there is enough space at the two schools that have kindergarten students, Jerome Harrison and Stanley T. Williams, to accommodate the longer program.

“I don’t think there’s any question the district should go (to full-day kindergarten) in terms of time on task (and) student instruction,” Wolfe said. “The problem is the cost investment in a year where cost is a factor, revenues are down.”

The report says that moving from four kindergarten teachers and four teacher’s aides to eight of each would cost about $300,000. The additional costs would be for more furniture and instructional materials for the classes.

Wolfe said that moving to full-day kindergarten has been part of the district’s strategic plan since 2002, and he called it a “top priority.” Currently, he said, kindergartners receive less than two hours of instructional time a day.

However, Wolfe said he does not plan to include the cost in the budget he is preparing for review by the Board of Education. He presented the concept to the board at its regular meeting Thursday night and said the members will decide on it.

“If the board wants to add it to the budget, then they can do that,” he said.

The school board is scheduled to begin reviewing the budget in January.

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