Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Full Day for Early Learners in Wayne

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Full Day for Early Learners in Wayne

Article excerpt

WAYNE -- In an unexpected and unscheduled vote, the Board of Education has approved a full-day kindergarten program for inclusion in the 2016-17 school year budget.

Trustees say the cost will be included within the state limit of a 2 percent annual increase in most tax-supported spending, so it does not have to be sent to the public for referendum approval.

The school board, which approved the new program Thursday night on a 6-2 vote, had long explored the possibility of a full-day kindergarten program, said Eileen Albanese, who at the meeting was voted in again by her fellow trustees as board president. The kindergarten program will be included at all nine district elementary schools, to start this September.

The next step will be for the board to work through the budget process and provide funding for the program, Albanese said. That process will take place over the next several months, with the full board working to present a balanced budget in the spring.

In November, residents voted down, by 4,754 to 4,126, a ballot proposal to authorize $2.1 million in funding for a full-day kindergarten program. The school district then began exploring other options. Late in the year, schools Superintendent Mark Toback said the district was looking into offering a tuition-based "wraparound" system, a voluntary, full-day, fee-based program taking into account the majority of voters who do not want to pay more taxes to support full-day kindergarten and parents who wanted full-day kindergarten for their children.

The board had scheduled a meeting to discuss the topic. However, trustee Christian Smith initiated a motion for the surprise vote.

"By voting on it, it allows the administration to frame the budget accordingly," Smith said.

The two nay votes came from Albanese and Mitch Badiner.

"I support Wayne implementing the full-day kindergarten program, but I wanted to do so in an informed manner and be able to present at the same time the impact that including the cost of full-day kindergarten into the budget might have on some other areas of the school district," Albanese said. "I wanted to allow the administration time to make a presentation to the board regarding the financial costs and how they would impact next year's school budget. …

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