The Putnam Examiner

Full Day Kindergarten Considered by Mahopac Schools (Again)

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Kindergarten is not a mandated program by the New York Board of Regents but in its Common Core Curriculum standards it not only includes guidelines for what students know by the end of kindergarten but what they should be learning in pre-kindergarten settings.

At the Mahopac School Board meeting held on Tuesday, Nov. 13, Kathy Lowell, district-wide administrator for Curriculum Instruction and Staff Development, gave a presentation on the expectations of the students at different grade levels. She noted the difficulty of meeting the standards in a half-day kindergarten setting such as the program Mahopac currently has.

“It is a backdoor mandate,” she said. “Full-day kindergarten is not required, but having to meet the goals expected of a full-day kindergarten program is.”

On Jan.10, 2011, the Board of Regents approved the Common Core Learning Standards for English Language Arts & Literacy and Common Core Learning Standards for Mathematics, plus a new set of Prekindergarten Standards. The goal was to develop a “common core of standards that are internationally benchmarked, aligned with work and post-secondary education expectations, and inclusive of the higher order skills that students need…,”  according to the Board of Regents website.

Full day kindergarten has been a contentious issue for the Mahopac School District for years. Several times the option to implement a full day program like many of the surrounding school districts has been considered, but each time it has been tabled because of its cost.

In 2011, the district put full day kindergarten into the 2012 budget but voters rejected it. At the time a grant was going to cover the first year’s implementation costs minus $200,000. It was expected to cost a million dollars annually to maintain. The budget passed in June after the district pulled the full-day kindergarten option out of the budget.

“Next year we are looking to move kindergarten out of Mahopac Falls School and into the three elementary schools and at the same time have a full day program,” said Schools Superintendent Thomas Manko. It was the same plan that was proposed in 2011.

The finance committee still has to discuss how the district can afford to incorporate a full day kindergarten program into the budget.

With the state mandated two-percent property tax cap the school district would need 60 percent of voters to approve a budget that exceeds a two percent increase.

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