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We’re here LIVE at the Hopewell Valley Regional School District school board meeting. While full-day kindergarten is not on the agenda this evening, many parents of incoming kindergartens are in attendance and plan to speak during the public comment section of the meeting tonight. REFRESH THIS PAGE TO FOLLOW LIVE.

“Full day K not on agenda because the board has already said they are in favor of it but is unable to move forward with discussing finical offsets until the district receives numbers from the state — still in wait and see mode,” said board president Lisa Wolff.

“Our numbers will be received 48 hour after the Governor’s Address tomorrow,” said district superintendent Tom Smith.

PUBLIC COMMENT

Nancy Andreski: I want to address the kindergarten issue and respect that nothing will be done tonight. I left the last board meeting not knowing what is best for my daughter but now I know I have to send my daughter to full-day kindergarten because it is necessary as part of her education. It is the foundation laid for education ongoing. Full day kindergarten should be provided to everyone. The teachers are extraordinary but they need the time to do their job right. (Talked about speaking to other districts who are offering full day-K, the costs associated with it, and the necessity of it to achieve the educational needs.) Wants to know whether the full-day program is just a pilot — and says that the vast majority of districts that can offer it, do. Begs the district to find a way to fully fund the program.

Marisa Enroth: Since the last board meeting, 8 districts have voted in favor of full day kindergarten even without the financial information that the district says they need. Thanks the board and Dr. Smith. “In the past the board has made it seem like full day K is a privilege but it is not and statistics show that it is beneficial. Talked about the difference between full day kindergarten and the other programs that the school district says they charge for — namely that the other programs do not teach the common core.”

“You aren’t offering a luxury to the parents who can afford to send their children to full day kindergarten, you are punishing those who cannot,” said Enroth.

Talked about financial need, that that standard is those who are at the poverty line. Is it really a choice? Do I have a choice to send my child to full day if I care for an elderly relative, am a single parent, etc. Wants the school district to choose to full day K and to offer it for free.

Lisa Shehan: Sharing her experience with the kindergarten extension program last year — her oldest son is accustomed to be in full day school but her son found it difficult, namely having 2 kindergarten classes where one was strict and the other was relaxed. Parent had trouble explaining what is going on. The teacher said that the curriculum was meant for a full day. “I did not find that the extension was building on the curriculum with synergy.” Also spoke about the many transitions throughout the day that caused disruption for her child. Wants the program to be provided full day and asks this to be put at the top of the priority list when considering the budget.

Scott Pashman: Appreciates the board listening to the comments. The way it is set up now, there is inequality across the board. Most of the people in the Township would not qualify for financial aid but parents are being shamed into finding a way to afford it. Spoke about the mission statement of the district. Also, pointed out that he is the business person of the house and if you do the math, less than 1% of the budget. would need to be carved out to fund the full day kindergarten program. “Find that 1%.”

Alison Larthey: We want our kids to have the same experience and to allow them to become people who love learn — that requires time to process it, to know each other, be part of the community and the school. The marketability of the district would be affected by whether there is full day kindergarten — we have to stay competitive and desirable. Hopes that this is funded for the benefit of the whole community.

Jackie Yadamiec: If you believe 1/2 day kindergarten is the right thing to do, do it. Please try to prioritize this for our kindergarteners.

Tricia Simpson: In 3 years, the PARCC might count. In 3, these kindergarteners will be taking the test.

PUBLIC COMMENT CLOSED.

Lisa Wolff: One commenter bares addressing because of the 7 people spoke, more than 1/2 said this: that the board should make it a priority. You don’t need to say anything to us. Each time you have come, we have specifically said that full day kindergarten is a priority to us. It is a priority to the board. We’ve said it quite clearly that we understand the importance of it and the administration understands that too. We just need to find out the numbers. And, as for numbers, although it is just 1%, there is a budget cap of 2%. 1% is not a small number.

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Mary Galioto
Mary Galioto is the founder, publisher and editor of MercerMe, and a lawyer. Originally from Brooklyn, Mary has progressively moved deeper and deeper into New Jersey, settling in the heart of the state: Mercer County. Formerly the author of an embarrassingly informal blog, Mary is a lifelong writer and asker of questions and was even mentioned, albeit briefly, in the New York Times and Washington Post. In her free time, Mary fills her life with excessive self-reflection, photographing mushrooms, and misguided adventures in random hobbies. Mary also works as the PR Coordinator at the Hopewell Valley Arts Council, serves on the volunteer Board of Trustees of the Lawrence Hopewell Trail (LHT), serves on the Hopewell Borough Board of Health, is a member of the Hopewell Valley Municipal Alliance, and holds the elected position as the Hopewell Borough Democratic Committee Municipal Chairwoman.

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