Full-day kindergarten will go to voters

  • Wilton-Lyndeborough Cooperative School Board Vice Chair Geoff Brock speaks with the Budget Committee on Tuesday. Staff photo by Ashley Saari

  • The Wilton-Lyndeborough Cooperative School Board and Budget Committee met on Tuesday to discuss the budget and warrant articles. (Ashley Saari / Monadnock Ledger-Transcript) Staff photo by Ashley Saari—Monadnock Ledger-Transcript

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Wednesday, January 24, 2018 6:13PM

After two weeks in limbo, the School Board voted to put the prospect of full-day kindergarten back onto the warrant as an individual article, instead of placing it into the budget.

Putting kindergarten into the budget appeared to be the board’s preference during its last meeting, when the board approved a vote to remove an article asking for full-day kindergarten funding from the warrant, in anticipation of a vote to add it into the district’s proposed budget.

But after hearing feedback from the district’s budget committee Tuesday’s meeting that the committee would not support full-day kindergarten funding, the School Board decided to put forth a warrant article after all, rather than trying to amend the budget on the floor at the district’s deliberative session.

“We don’t support funding for full-day kindergarten, in either form,” Budget Committee Chair Leslie Brown informed the board. The committee’s stance was based on a two-fold argument, she said.

“We don’t feel the taxpayers can carry that additional burden, and feel there’s not enough evidence that full-day kindergarten is beneficial,” said Brown. 

Budget Committee member Jim Kofalt clarified, “Studies are split on the value of full-day kindergarten.” Kofalt argued that he had looked at studies that suggested that the differences in student achievement between districts with half-day and full-day kindergarten were negligible. “The evidence doesn’t seem compelling enough to make a decision that has a lasting expense but dubious benefit.”

School Board members, however, stood by their stance that full-day kindergarten would be beneficial.

If the Budget Committee was not willing to put forth a budget that included that funding, said School Board member Carol LeBlanc, she was willing to go back on her recommendation that the funds be part of the budget, and put forth a warrant article. 

“If the data isn’t out there, why are those that are financially able to see to it that they send their children to full-day kindergarten?” challenged LeBlanc.

Budget Committee member Lisa Post reposted that as a parent, she had made the choice for half-day kindergarten, and working with them herself on other skills.

“And it’s nice that you had that option,” said LeBlanc.

The board voted 6-2 in favor of putting the article back on the warrant. The article requests $105,000 for the purpose of implementing full-day kindergarten, but after state funding that supports public schools, the total tax impact of the article would be about $57,000. The projected tax impact of the average homeowner in the district is between 8 and 9 cents.

School Board member Miriam Lemire, who voted against the measure, clarified that she was in favor of full-day kindergarten, but felt that because it would be an ongoing cost, it should be included in the budget. 

The district’s budget hearing will be held on Feb. 8 at 7 p.m. at the Wilton-Lyndeborough Cooperative Middle and High School with a snow date of Feb. 9 at the same time and location. The district’s deadline for the submission of petition warrant articles is also Feb. 8 by 4 p.m.