Several parents attended an Oxford Board of Education meeting Tuesday night to discuss why they believe it's important for the school district to implement full-day kindergarten in the coming school year.
Seventy percent of Connecticut school districts have full-day kindergarten, according to the most recent statistics available on the state Department of Education's website, and more are believed to have implemented it this school year, including many in surrounding communities.
The board seemed receptive to at least discussing the idea and has decided to form an ad hoc committee to explore the idea further.
Paula Guillet, school board chairwoman, sent out a news release on behalf of the board Wednesday in which she discusses how the board plans to move forward. It reads:
"Full-day Kindergarten in Oxford has been an ongoing topic
of discussion over the last decade. The state mandate was put on hold several
years ago, as they were unable to assist with the funds that many districts,
especially those needing building projects, needed to implement the program.
"However, this year with the declining enrollment due to a decrease in birth rates now impacting grades K -2 at Quaker Farms School, it has freed up previously unavailable classroom space, which significantly reduces the cost associated with implementing the program. That coupled with this year’s implementation of Common Core and other state mandated changes in education, it is very important for us to reexamine this issue from a curriculum standpoint to determine the educational need for full-day kindergarten.
"Obviously, there are a lot of opinions as to whether or not full-day kindergarten is in the best interest of the child’s well-being, the working parent’s desire for day care and other parent’s preference to be home with their child. Future projected enrollment, housing developments, short-and-long-term financial impact, increased staff, salary and benefits, savings in mid-day transportation, parent and community input, impact on budget support, and many other factors that need to be discussed.
"Detailed discussions have taken place with the Superintendent (Tim Connellan), Board Chair, and in our committee meetings and now we are moving it to the next step and forming an Ad Hoc committee to study this issue and its impact on our district in more detail.
"The committee will consist of 3 Board of Education members, Amy Cote (D), Gerard Carbonaro (R), and Stephen Brown (D), which represents our Facilities, Finance, and Curriculum, Committees respectively. Also serving from the district will be, Quaker Farms School Principal, Rachael Cacace; Director of Finance, Rosemary Hanson; Superintendent, Tim Connellan; and 2 Elementary teachers, one from Kindergarten and one from first grade, to be named. BOE Chairwoman, Paula Guillet, will serve as an ex-officio member as required and Amy Cote will Chair the committee.
Input will be sought from the
parents as well as the community. The goal is to have the work completed by
late winter. The charge will be written and reviewed at the next Board meeting."
Note to readers: Oxford Patch interviewed several parents Tuesday night. We plan to write a follow-up story in which we quote parents.