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Letter: Full-day kindergarten in Barrington still needs to be added this fall

By   /   June 4, 2013  /   2 Comments

To the editor:
As you know, the motion to add funds to the budget to implement full-day kindergarten this fall was voted down at the Financial Town Meeting — 185 to 148.
However, our community offered resounding support for the implementation of full-day kindergarten! The vote against the addition of funds to the school budget ought to be viewed as a demand that the school department and school committee find the funds within the existing budget to implement full-day kindergarten this fall.
Implementation cannot wait until next year!
The director of curriculum has said, several times, that the kindergarten curriculum, under Common Core, cannot be fully delivered in a half day program. In fact, she has said that students in the current half-day program are missing one hour of required instruction each day!
I’ve heard from parents of kindergarten students this year, whose children are reporting that they don’t have enough time to eat their snacks or become friends with their classmates due to the time constraints of half-day kindergarten!
These students are certainly not receiving sufficient time for the social and emotional learning that should be an integral part of their kindergarten education. This is simply unacceptable to me. Full-day kindergarten is clearly in the best-interests of our kindergarteners.
The superintendent has stated, on several occasions, that he has determined that there is sufficient space at all three elementary schools to house the necessary classrooms without much effort. He also said that he was confident that great teachers could be found for these classes. He has also said that he is confident that the transportation needs of these students could be met.
There were two solid weeks between the presentation of the budget and the Financial Town Meeting. There were only two possible results of the FTM. During those two weeks, the superintendent and the school committee members should have been drafting — down to the penny — two plans:
1. How, exactly, the money would be spent to implement full-day kindergarten, if the motion to add $633,000 to budget passed; and
2. How, exactly, the money would be spent to implement full-day kindergarten, if the motion failed.
It should have been made explicitly clear that additional teachers would be added at Sowams (second grade) and in the eighth grade, if class size was again predicted to exceed acceptable levels; and that at least some progress toward purchasing hardware to support the PARCC assessments could be made even if the motion to add funds to the budget failed.
It was incumbent upon the superintendent and the school committee members to dig deeper and identify possible cuts to programs other than these hot button issues.
I advocate that the superintendent and the school committee resolve this predicament and come to the school committee meeting this Thursday, June 6 with a realistic plan for implementing full-day kindergarten this fall. Equity for all students demands it.
Tricia Adams

Barrington

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2 Comments

  1. Amy Segal says:

    The Superintendent also said that full-day kindergarten cannot be implemented without cuts to current programs, which may very well mean not adding the teacher that is sorely needed at Sowams because of extremely large class sizes there. The much needed upgrade to the technology probably would not happen, classes at the high school may get cut. I don’t want to see spending cuts that will affect the older children just for the sake of a few extra hours at 5 years old. The fact is, you can’t have everything and I don’t believe full-day kindergarten is what is needed.

    Barrington has a set of top schools and our kids have done very well here for decades and that is with half-day kindergarten. Ninety-six percent of our students graduated from high school in 2010, and many go on to attend top colleges in the nation. The problem is not that we need full-day kindergarten, but instead the problem is a set of standards (Common Core) that was developed with very little public engagement by an organization called Achieve that is funded by corporations. A set of standards that each state was then encouraged to adopt with the promise of federal money not because it was necessarily better than what they already had. A set of standards that is untested and that is being questioned by educators, school administrators and government officials across the country. Indiana’s governor just recently agreed to stop the implementation of Common Core and Michigan is about to become state number two to do the same.

    Just this past Fri. the American Association of School Administrators, the National Association of Elementary School Principals, the National School Boards Association, and the National Association of Secondary School Principals called for more time to prepare for the new curriculum. http://www.aasa.org/headlinecontent.aspx?id=28598&showcontent=1 They found that state funding is inadequate as is the level of professional support. In other words, they are saying that before we go throwing a new set of standards at the schools lets make sure they have the adequate funding and resources for it. Let’s make sure we do this right.

    I agree. Let’s slow down. Let’s make sure that what we are doing is the necessary thing. In the meantime, our kids are doing just fine.

  2. Kathy Crain says:

    Dear Ms. Adams,
    Thank you for your thoughtful letter on Full Day Kindergarten. Across the country, more and more states are implementing Full Day after finding that it benefits children academically, socially and emotionally. While finding the funding might be a difficult task, our own elected officials and senior Education officials have publicly stated that we will be harming our youngest students if we do not provide them with something greater than 150 minutes of school per day. To knowingly do that is a disservice to our entire community, just as purposefully using scare tactics and unfounded threats about what program will be cut is divisive. The parents of Barrington should be coming together to advocate for all of our students, big and small. To pit us against each other is a tactic that should not be tolerated.

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