EAST PROVIDENCE — If the money is there, and at this point it appears it will be, then East Providence will continue to offer students All-Day Kindergarten classes.
The East Providence Budget Commission, at its meeting Thursday afternoon, Feb. 14, in City Hall, signaled it plans to keep the program intact for the 2013-14 school term.
Interim Schools Superintendent Dr. John DeGoes offered up an impassioned dissertation on the subject at Thursday’s forum, telling the Commission the short-term savings were overridden by the long-term consequences to children and the city.
“As the educational leader of the city, albeit a temporary one, I strongly recommend we keep All-Day K,” Dr. DeGoes said.
The projected savings of $602,767 would come from the elimination of eight Kindergarten teachers. However, the increased number of buses needed at mid-day would cost $115,020. Also, the city would lose $228,287 in state aid. The net savings would actually be $259,460.
“It’s worth spending the money to maintain All-Day K. Part of the governor’s (Lincoln Chafee) State of the State speech, his budget increases early-child education. More recently President Obama expressed the need to put more (federal) money into early-childhood education,” Dr. DeGoes said.
He continued, “Our mandate in the school department is to prepare kids for the race of life. In any race, the first step is the most important. In the past, we had more upper and middle-class families with kids who had access to books and computers and educational tools. Today we have more lower-income families, people who once enjoyed middle class status that no longer have it. It would probably impact all students adversely in the future if we did not prepare them early.”
Dr. DeGoes concluded by saying, “It took years for the city to get All-Day K. People had to fight for it. Let’s keep it. Let’s not take a step backwards.”
City Council President and Commission member James Briden agreed with Dr. DeGoes’ sentiments, saying “we would end up spending more” money dealing with students’ issues as they get older than it would cost to maintain the early-learning program.
Added City Manager and City Manager Peter Graczykowski, “I think the Commission has shown its support and will leave All-Day K in the budget.”