Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Full-Day Kindergarten Not in Wayne Budget Plan

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Full-Day Kindergarten Not in Wayne Budget Plan

Article excerpt

WAYNE -- Full-day kindergarten will not be included in the preliminary budget that the superintendent presents to the Board of Education, as the district wrestles with squeezing rising costs within the 2-percent tax levy cap.

The board voted last month to include full-day kindergarten in the budget, a move that pleased many young parents but worried district officials who already were confronting rising salaries and health care costs.

At the board meeting Thursday night, Superintendent Mark Toback said he would instead present a budget that includes a "wraparound" kindergarten program that offers full-day kindergarten for a monthly tuition fee of $250.

Wayne already offers a half-day kindergarten program attended by 348 children. Many parents send their children to a half-day session in township public schools and transfer them to private school kindergarten for the other half day.

Under the superintendent's tuition plan, children would attend a half-day session, paid for by the district, but pay a fee to keep their children in the district for a full day.

Toback called the wraparound a "reasonable compromise that respects the voters" and eliminates the need for sharp cuts to programs for students in Grades 1 to 12. Voters in a November referendum rejected a $2.1 million measure to fund full-day kindergarten by a vote of 4,455-5,048. Opponents cited concerns over higher taxes. The defeated full-day kindergarten measure would have raised taxes by $47 a year on a house assessed at township average assessment $228,200.

If full-day kindergarten had been approved, the added cost would have been excluded from the 2-percent tax levy cap.

The advancement of the compromise proposal in place of a fully funded, full-day kindergarten program frustrated some board members and parents on Thursday.

Christian Smith, the trustee who made the motion on Jan. 7 to fund full-day kindergarten, said the superintendent should include full-day kindergarten in the budget, with a list of cuts in other programs that would be needed to afford it.

At the meeting, Donna Reichman, the director of elementary education, presented a possible curriculum for the new half-day tuition program, seeking to dispel the "misconception that it's a daycare program. …

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