Normally, it is my job to fill up this space, and this week, I intended to write something in support of full day kindergarten for the children of Durham and Middlefield. However, my good friend, President of the MOMS Club of Durham/Middlefield and fellow crusador for the cause, Kate Farnsworth of Durham, has already done an amazing job explaining why all residents of Regional School District 13 need to be behind this change, so why reinvent the wheel?
Please take a couple minutes to read Kate's reasons below, and then, if you are in agreement, sign our petition in support and come out to the BOE meeting this Wednesday, April 11.
SUPPORT ALL-DAY KINDERGARTEN IN RSD 13
According to the Connecticut Department of Education, seventy percent of kindergartners in Connecticut attend full or extended day programs. Durham and Middlefield, however, are part of the minority of towns that only offer half-day kindergarten. Our children deserve the highest level of education that we can provide now. It is time for us to choose to invest in the future of our children and the future of our towns.
Research shows the importance of full-day kindergarten programs. These programs, however, are not currently available to about 30 percent of kindergarten-aged children in Connecticut. As a result, many of our children begin first grade several steps behind their peers. Full-day kindergarten helps ensure that students build the strong base of learning they will need to succeed throughout school and life.
The Common Core State Standards are in the process of being implemented in Connecticut. Our children will have difficulty meeting these high standards with only half-day kindergarten and they will be left to play catch up in first and second grades. Many of our own RSD13 teachers have voiced this concern at BOE meetings and support all-day kindergarten.
I am a stay-at-home mom, with two children ages three (3) and two (2). I have no ulterior motive in supporting all-day kindergarten. I do not need all day child care. I do not have children in daycare, but I do have a daughter in preschool. Her preschool program runs four hours three days per week. The current half-day kindergarten program runs only two hours and forty-five minutes; a step back for her and many other children in town. Once you subtract out snack time, bathroom time, and outdoor play, there is very little time left over for teaching.
As the current president of the MOMS Club of Durham/Middlefield, I have had the opportunity to talk with a number of families in town and most have expressed their support for all-day kindergarten. Many of these families, including mine, moved to Durham primarily for the school system. We pay taxes so that we can take advantage of and watch our children excel in the excellent school system. If we keep our current half-day kindergarten program, our children will be starting off behind, left to catch up in later grades and left with a distaste for learning. This distaste will lead to poor grades and poor test scores, dropping our school ratings and eventually dropping the values of homes in Durham and Middlefield.
The proposed budget for the fiscal year of 2012-2013 is $34,089,930. This figure is an increase of 3.27% over the current budget. The Board of Education has done an excellent job in locating where cuts can be made and I believe this small increase is a worthwhile investment in our children and our town’s future.
Eventually, the state will mandate all-day kindergarten for each and every town in Connecticut. Let's not wait until the state mandates it; the children of Durham and Middlefield deserve the best that we can provide now. Help support our children and full-day kindergarten on April 11th at 8:00 pm in the auditorium of CRHS as the Board of Education sends their budget proposal to the public hearing. You can also voice your support on the following petition:
Don’t let our children fall behind. Come out on May 8th and voting YES for the proposed BOE budget. We must invest in the future of our children and the future of our town.