Letter: Please show your support for full-day kindergarten in Barrington
To the editor:
We are writing in support of full-day kindergarten in Barrington in the 2013–2014 school year, when the State of Rhode Island, along with 44 other states, will be fully implementing the Common Core State Standards for students in kindergarten through grade 12.
Our state mandates that we adopt these standards and the new kindergarten standards are written and designed for full-day kindergarten programs.
With this new curriculum, our current half-day program will not position Barrington’s youngest learners for success. This is unacceptable, particularly for a town with a public education program as renowned as ours.
At the May 9 school committee meeting, the district curriculum director estimated that if the current half-day program remains in place next year, Barrington’s kindergarteners will forfeit — each day — a full hour of required academic learning.
Additionally, the half-day kindergarten program sacrifices opportunities for social and emotional development, key components of strong early childhood education programs.
If Barrington does not adopt full-day kindergarten next year, these young students will be playing catch-up for years to come. Over the course of the past week, over 320 Barrington residents have signed a petition supporting full-day kindergarten next year.
School administrators, the entire school committee, and some, if not all, members of the committee on appropriations are in favor of full-day kindergarten. Their questions: when, and how to cover costs.
At the budget hearing on May 8, the committee on appropriations presented a school budget which doesn’t provide sufficient funds to implement a full-day kindergarten program in the 2013-2014 school year.
Until early May, the school district presented a “placeholder” of $144,000 to fund full-day kindergarten. As school administrators more comprehensively explored implementing the full-day program, they determined that the only logistical hurdle to implementation next year is financial. There is sufficient space currently available in each of the elementary schools, and school administrators are certain that qualified teachers are available.
Regarding the budget, they determined that the actual cost would be $633,000. This figure includes costs associated with hiring five additional teachers and 11 classroom aides; providing additional student transportation; and purchasing supplies. While this revised assessment was brought to the committee on appropriations at, or perhaps shortly after, the 11th hour, we should not allow our kindergarteners to be penalized.
We have every confidence that the school department can successfully implement this very necessary program in the coming school year.
We support a motion to amend the school budget to include funding for full-day kindergarten. Based on information from the tax assessor’s office, we believe that passage of such a motion will increase the tax rate by $0.23 per $1,000 of assessed value.
We urge all Barrington residents to attend the May 22 Financial Town Meeting to vote for implementation of full-day kindergarten in 2013–2014.
Commitment to excellence in education is a hallmark of our town. Full-day kindergarten will give our youngest students a strong and secure foundation upon which to build. Implementation of full-day kindergarten in 2013-2014 can’t happen without your vote of support at the Financial Town Meeting.