Full Day K goes up for a vote tonight

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!

  • pjlooney

    Paul,
    Don't jump to conclusions… but as a concerned parent I wanted to know some things about FDK as we deal with a deep recession.

    Is FDK being offered next year?

    Did FDK require any funds this year besides those raised through Tuition and the State FDK fund?

    My concern is that I see FDK as minimally beneficial for most children and therefore I am deeply concerned that FDK may be taking away some key funds that could save Teachers or reduce fees for Band or Sports or pave the area in front of the HS.

    I am also concerned that unlike last year with the amazing 93% participation rate that the increase in tuition as seems certain giving Governor Patricks gutting of the FDK funds will mean a significant drop in children and with it potential costs that would have to be picked up by the School.

    In other words can you assure me that FDK will be fully funded by tuition and whatever funds we get from the State for FDK and not taken from other sources?

    I am also interested in the mandatory hours necessary for Kindegarten students. If I recall we had split sessions Morning/Afternoon growing up. Could that be done to save a few Teachers by having 1 Teacher teach a morning and afternoon class as an FTE. I know 5 hours in mandated for elementary students but that doesn't apply to K students.

    Thanks,
    PJ

  • pjlooney

    Paul,
    Don't jump to conclusions… but as a concerned parent I wanted to know some things about FDK as we deal with a deep recession.

    Is FDK being offered next year?

    Did FDK require any funds this year besides those raised through Tuition and the State FDK fund?

    My concern is that I see FDK as minimally beneficial for most children and therefore I am deeply concerned that FDK may be taking away some key funds that could save Teachers or reduce fees for Band or Sports or pave the area in front of the HS.

    I am also concerned that unlike last year with the amazing 93% participation rate that the increase in tuition as seems certain giving Governor Patricks gutting of the FDK funds will mean a significant drop in children and with it potential costs that would have to be picked up by the School.

    In other words can you assure me that FDK will be fully funded by tuition and whatever funds we get from the State for FDK and not taken from other sources?

    I am also interested in the mandatory hours necessary for Kindegarten students. If I recall we had split sessions Morning/Afternoon growing up. Could that be done to save a few Teachers by having 1 Teacher teach a morning and afternoon class as an FTE. I know 5 hours in mandated for elementary students but that doesn't apply to K students.

    Thanks,
    PJ