Does Summit Need Full-Day Kindgergarten?
Superintendent says focus meetings are forum to discuss rejection of pilot program.
Schools Superintendent Nathan Parker says that full-day kindergarten is one strategy to narrow the achievement gap in schools. But, the City of Summit has never had a full-day kindergarten program.
Plans for a proposed 2012 program were on the table and parents were surveyed to gauge interest earlier this year. This week Parker issued a letter about cancelled plans for a full-day, tuition-based kindergarten pilot program that was shot down by a special committee. The Nov. 29 email explained that the planned $7,500 to $9,000 program would have serviced only a limited number of students at a higher cost than was acceptable for the community. "People were concerned about the level of cost," said Parker regarding the finances necessary to cover buildings and teacher costs.
Part of the call for an all-day education program was in response to the 60 percent of Summit kindergartners who attend a program offered outside of the Summit public school system, a statistic Parker pointed to in an earlier statement.
Currently, the Primary Centers at Jefferson and Wilson provide half-day programs, one in the morning from 8:30 a.m. to 11:22 a.m. and another from 12:22 p.m. to 3:15 p.m.
In his letter this week, Parker says that “a new committee will instead begin to assess the feasibility of implementing a program for less or no tuition.” He welcomed feedback from parents at the next pair of school focus area meetings to set district priorities for 2012 to 2015. “The board of education is always looking for feedback on their options,” he told Patch.
The next focus meeting is tonight, Dec. 1 from 7:30p.m. to 9:30p.m. in the Summit High School library. The final meeting for parents to voice their concerns about full-day kindergarten during this focus phase is next Saturday, Dec. 10 at the Primary Center at Jefferson.