Supporters of full day kindergarten need to turn out tonight to the Chenery Middle School at 7:30 for an important School Committee meeting. At issue will be the School Dept.’s plan to introduce all day kindergarten to the town’s elementary schools, to be paid for with state grants and fees from families that use the program. The all day K will be voluntary, and vouchers or reduced fees will be available for families that cannot afford it. It’s not clear what the program will cost. I’ve heard estimates anywhere from $1,200 up to $2,000 per child — slightly less than the current extended day kindergarten costs.
Despite a funding scheme that makes FDK a budget neutral event, town leaders have still expressed doubts about the program. A recent article in the Belmont Citizen Herald quoted Town Treasurer Floyd Carman and Warrant Committee member Pat Brusch raising the prospect that the FDK program could run into trouble should state grants run out in the future.
And, while a strong majority of the School Committee is expected to vote in favor of the fee-based program, member Ann Rittenburg circulated an e-mail saying that she would object, citing her firm belief that public school education should remain publicly funded.
“It is not full-day kindergarten that I oppose. It is making the full kindergarten curriculum accessible only through the payment of a fee that I oppose. That is what the current proposal before the School Committee would do, if approved. I cannot and will not approve such a proposal,” she wrote.
Parents who want to see FDK implemented for next year should try to peel away an hour of free time to go to the Chenery and show their support for the program at tonight’s meeting!