The Berlin Board of Education instructed the administrators of the three town elementary schools to put in budget requests for full day kindergarten starting the 2013-2014 school year.
The elementary school principals put on a presentation before between 30 and 40 parents at the Berlin BOE traveling meeting Monday night at Griswold Elementary School.
"Research has shown many advantages to full day kindergarten," Board of Education member Kristin Campanelli said. "Research has shown increased classroom participation, increased social development, higher attendance rates as the students go forward and far less remediation needed."
Due to the impending Common Core Standards, students will be asked to do more at an earlier age. One example is kindergarten students are now asked to count to 50 without skipping a number. They will be asked to count to 100 without skipping under the new guidelines.
"Standards are increasing due to the common core," Campanelli said. "To have a half day that doesn't allow a whole lot of time for the students to spend with the teachers. This will allow the teachers more time for individualized instruction and also to work in large and small groups for block instruction. Teachers who have 18 students in both the morning and afternoon have 36 students and that is a big load. This will make things a lot easier for the teachers to deliver the curriculum more effectively."
The teacher and classroom breakdowns for full day kindergarten will look like this:
- Griswold - Three teachers increased to five. Three rooms to five rooms.
- Hubbard - One teacher increased to two. One room to two rooms
- Willard - Two teachers increased to five teachers. Two rooms to five.
The budget will look like this:
- Staff: $419,677
- Facilities: $120,000 (about $20 per six new rooms)
- Structural Changes: $245,600
- Total: $785,277
There may be some savings to help defray the costs. Berlin would now be open to accepting more Choice students since they must start in full day kindergarten and not half-day kindergarten. The town may also save some money since it will not have to have bus routes in the middle of the day.
One mother voiced her concerns that she was not sure her child was ready for a full day kindergarten because they were still taking naps mid-day. Administrators said the full day kindergarten will not be a one-size-fits-all and that students individual needs would be met.
"We have seen the advantages of full day kindergarten," Campanelli added. "There will be much more instructional time and time to spend time with their peers to develop social skills. I think the more time the teachers can spend with the students the better.
"The Common Core is making standards more rigorous and the district needs to respond to students being tested earlier. We want to make sure they are ready and capable students. I'm optimistic this will be in our budget and we'll be able to implement it for the school year in the fall."