Almost everything is in place to launch all-day kindergarten, except for school district's exact surplus amount and buying the necessary resources.
Late last week, school officials promised to use the anticipated surplus for all-day kindergarten. They said the exact number will likely be enough to fund the $873,000 program, and will be known July 1, at the end of the fiscal year.
"We will specifically use this money for that specific purpose," said school board Chairman Stephen Wright.
The program will be paid for using a state law allowing a school district to place up to one percent of its budget in a separate account for later use. The Board of Finance recently created that account by a 5-1 vote.
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The money still belongs to the Board of Education although it will be in a townside account. The plan also avoids a tax increase on the additional funding.
Finance board member Andrew Palo cast the lone negative, asking what happens if there is no surplus.
"We can pretty much predict, saving a disaster, what will be there at this time," said. "We're assured the one percent will be there."
His colleague, Tom Tesoro, said he supports the program but not the funding method. "I'm going to vote for this because I want all-day kindergarten," he said. He also called the statute "stupid."
"All this is is a supplemental with a fancy name and a tail," Tesoro said.
Board of Finance Alternate Cindy Penkoff agreed with Tesoro that the program should be in the education operating budget, not a separate account.
First Selectman Tim Herbst said using the state statute also speeds up the process so parents can plan for the fall. He thanked town officials for cooperating.
"Good things are accomplished and created when we work in a bipartisan manner," he said.
Approving the use of the statute is "doing the right thing, putting the kids first," Herbst added. "We've been talking about it for 25 years."
Finance Chairman Elaine Hammers noted, "We can't do anything until the account is established."
The next step is for the Board of Education to complete its budgeting process. The panel meets May 1.