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Full-day K to head to WLC voters



Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Monday, February 12, 2018 5:39PM

With the Wilton-Lyndeborough District Budget Committee presenting a budget number lower than last year’s, attendance was sparse at the public hearing, and the budget remains as originally proposed at $12.3 million.

The proposed budget represents a reduction of $206,810 from the current budget, which is a 1.65 percent decrease. 

“Basically, the budget this year is lower than last year, and no one has any issues with that,” said Budget Committee Vice-Chair Karen Grybko, in an interview Monday. 

According to Budget Committee presentation documents, the budget represents a tax impact to Lyndeborough of 36 cents and 40 cents to Wilton.

Though less than last year’s budget, the proposed budget includes increasing teacher training in math, a continued investment in technology and 1 to 1 student-to-computer ratio, and the addition of a response to instruction and curriculum coordinator to improve student achievement. 

The budget proposal includes the reduction of one teacher in the fifth grade, as the incoming class is smaller than the current class moving up to the sixth grade. The reduction in staff will be absorbed through a teacher retirement. 

As well as the budget, the Budget Committee expressed support for all articles but one – funds to support full-day kindergarten, which is supported by the School Board.

“The Budget Committee does not support that, and the school board does, so it will be up to the public to discuss,” said Grybko.

Currently, the district offers half-day kindergarten, with an optional extended-day program that parents must pay for to attend. This year, the state increased funding for full-day kindergarten students, causing the district to look into and propose a full-day option.

The costs to the district of implementing full-day kindergarten would be $117,745. However, because of additional revenue from the state, the anticipated net cost to the tax payer is $57,545. 

The additional cost would cover a full-time kindergarten teacher, a part-time food service worker, and a part-time preschool teacher. 

The School Board has argued that a longer kindergarten day would be beneficial to preparing students for the first grade, pointing to internal district data that showed that in the current school year, more than half of first graders began school without the basic skills to be ready to learn, and that as of January, none of the current year’s kindergartners would enter the first grade ready to read.

The increase to a full-day program, the School Board argues, would double instructional time for students to give them the skills to prepare them for the first grade, while also increasing time to expose them to music, art and physical education.

The Budget Committee, however, voted not to recommend the article, both on financial and scholastic grounds.

Grybko said she felt the budget committee’s purpose was not to recommend non-mandated or unnecessary measures, and that the committee had consulted studies that suggested that whether a student had full- or half-day kindergarten didn’t make a significant difference in the long run of their education.

But ultimately, the decision will lie in the hands of the voters at district meeting in March, said Grybko.

“It’s a change in our educational model, and I think people should talk and vote on it as to what they want to do,” she said.

This year also represents a collective bargaining agreement for the school’s support staff. 

The agreement would result in an increase in the first year of $6,575. This would result in a tax rate increase of about a penny in both towns.

The agreement includes an annual salary increase of 2.5 percent, and a change to a deductible insurance plan.

The district is also asking for $60,000 for the school’s building/equipment and roadway capital reserve fund. If approved, the article would have a tax impact of about 11 cents in both towns. The projects for the coming school year include continuing to resurface the roof at the middle/high school, a project that will continue for another two years, and patching the parking lot at the middle/high school. 

District Meeting will be held on Saturday, March 10, at 9 a.m. at the Wilton-Lyndeborough Cooperative Middle and High School. The snow date will be Monday, March 12 at 7 p.m.

District Voting will be held on March 13, at 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. at the Wilton Town Hall on Main Street for Wilton and 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. at Citizens’ Hall, 9 Citizens’ Hall Road for Lyndeborough.

 

Ashley Saari can be reached at 924-7172 ext. 244 or asaari@ledgertranscript.com. She’s on Twitter @AshleySaariMLT.