Support Full Day Kindergarten
By Mary E. McLoughlin | September 7, 2022
The Montgomery School District is pleased to announce the plan for full-day kindergarten for our students beginning in the 2023- 2024 school year. This initiative began in 2019, pre-pandemic, through the collaboration of teachers, administrators, and board of education members but was paused when our focus shifted unexpectedly to the pandemic. We are happy that we are able to resume this important initiative at this time and will need the community’s support.
How can the community support the school district?
In order to implement full-day kindergarten, the school district must first secure the necessary funding. There will be a public question for community members to vote on during the November 8 election. The question has two parts: The first part supports funding for staffing and programming ($1,620,152). The cost, based on the average home assessed value, for a Montgomery Township taxpayer, is $98 for the first half of the fiscal year 2023, and for a Rocky Hill taxpayer $3 for the first half of the fiscal year 2023. This will then become a recurring cost.
The second part is the facility funding necessary to accommodate a full-day kindergarten program. This is a one-time cost in the amount of $669,763. The cost, based on the average home assessed value, for a Montgomery Township taxpayer is $57 (one time) and for a Rocky Hill taxpayer is $1.80 (one time). The two parts to the one question are connected and both would need to be supported to move forward with full-day kindergarten.
Why is full-day kindergarten important?
There are many benefits both academically and for the social- emotional well-being of our youngest learners. Advantages include: An increase in students’ academic achievement; Greater opportunities for exploration, reinforcement and reflection of skills taught; And, an increase in time spent on individualized instruction, purposeful play, peer-to-peer interaction, building independence, and self-assessment. The Montgomery School District is committed to creating a strong educational foundation for our students. Out of the 599 operating school districts and 87 charter schools in New Jersey, the Montgomery School District is one of the 20 remaining school districts without a full-day kindergarten.
The idea of full-day kindergarten is not new nor is it something we first thought of in 2019. It has been a goal for the district for quite some time. In 2019 we were presented with the closure of the township’s Kid Connection program, which impacted the school district in two ways. First, many of our half-day kindergarten students attended the other half of their day in the Kid Connection program, providing them with a full-day experience at the Orchard Hill Elementary School (OHES) campus. Students were transported to and from both programs by the school district.
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The closure of the Kid Connection program also provided the district with the opportunity to secure ownership of the Kid Connection building, located on the OHES campus. The additional classrooms in this building provided us with the space necessary to implement full-day kindergarten. As part of the one-time cost for facilities mentioned above, our plan is to use the Early Childhood Center, formerly known as the Kid Connection Building, for our preschool program. The current preschool classrooms in the OHES building will become the additional kindergarten classrooms necessary for full-day kindergarten.
Our goal is to provide the best programming for all our students beginning in kindergarten. Our initiative will focus on the following four areas: Academic Learning; Social & Emotional Learning; Safety; and Fiscal Responsibility. All stakeholders are encouraged to participate as we move forward with this endeavor. There will be many opportunities to learn more about full-day kindergarten and provide input as we move through the process.
Mary E. McLoughlin is the Superintendent of Montgomery Township Schools.