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.