All Day Kindergarten Advances

The Board of Finance recently approved an account in which the Board of Education will place its surplus to fund all day kindergarten.

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. 

Paul G. Littlefield April 30, 2012 at 11:56 AM
You can use all of the smoke and mirror techniques that the democrat party elites are noted for but you can not deny that this is one H... of a shell game, toying with a small segment of the population's emotions and risking the majority of the taxpayer's dollars. This is not the kind of governance of the public trust one expects today. ADK is not an educational issue and the town can not afford the expense. Many communities in the North East have had to suspend their Pre-K and ADK programs for lack of funds. I am very disappointed in the republican leadership for backing this waste of scarce tax dollars. It is not an educational issue and there are many resuorces already in place for those who need child care while they go to work or to the country club.
Kristy Waizenegger April 30, 2012 at 01:07 PM
I have to push back at the assertion by some that FDK is day care. Nobody has ever asserted a similar argument about the rest of the elementary school grades. The kindergarten day is simply being brought in line with the rest of the elementary school grades. Second, anyone who can do basic math will tell you that the school day is much shorter than the work day. The work day typically starts earlier and ends later than the school day. School does not eliminate the need for child care before and after. We have seen the research and heard from some of our most knowledgable educators that FDK is necessary and that it is, indeed, an educational issue.
Carol Hudak April 30, 2012 at 03:13 PM
Bravo, Paul Littlefield! Imagine, a (TRTC) Republican in Trumbull in 2012, with an independent opinion. How refreshing. Ms. Waizenegger, there are strong pros and cons about the educational merits of ADK. I take issue here with your 'length of day' reasoning, because it's simply not reasonable! In elementary school, children are OLDER and have the maturity to be in school all day long. To use length of day as an argument in favor of ADK ignores the maturity differences between kindergarten children and older children. Your argument suggests that keeping uniformity in the system is more important than whether the children are able to be in school for so long. I disagree. Good education considers the abilities and the needs of the child FIRST, not simply 'bringing kindergarten in line with the rest of the elementary school grades.' The merits of ADK are up for debate; what should not be a part of the debate is parity in the length of the school day. You need to find a better argument, Ms. W. Carol Hudak P.S. I've also spoken with childhood educators, and they think children at this age are NOT ready for ADK. They have told me it is 'babysitting.' Children should be allowed to be children and not forced into an all day classroom situation.
Kristy Waizenegger April 30, 2012 at 03:30 PM
Perhaps you misread my comment. Or, perhaps I didn't articulate my opinion as well as I would like. It's disheartening to me that people are so hell bent on arguing and comdemning instead of listening. It's okay to disagree. My comment about the length of day pertained to this notion that those in favor of FDK are looking for day care. I have never heard this argument made about the rest of the elementary school grades. As to my support of FDK, it is based upon research I have read and the insights of many knowledgeable educators. I recognize that there are other equally qualified individuals who do not support it. As you said, there are pros and cons and all we can do is consider the information and make a decision. Sometimes people will disagree which is fine. I think FDK is a practical solution to the increasing number of state mandates. Many educators have stated that the state's expectations of kindergarten simply cannot be accomplished in a half day environment. Perhaps the broader issue to be addressed is the continued roll out of new mandates and requirements - if we think these mandates are unreasonable (and some are just absolutely silly IMO), perhaps we should be reaching out to the law makers that implemented them and consider whether they deserve our vote.
Heather M. May 01, 2012 at 12:57 AM
The "research" was conducted on sample populations that were primarily urban and lower socioeconmic. That is not Trumbull. Further, the results of the studies were used with populations that do not have access to or can afford pre-school, like those who attend Head Start. That is not Trumbull. I am dissappointed that this became another divisive issue. The public should have demanded an honest examination of the districts needs and then made a decision as to wether or not FDK was a budget priority. Why more resources for K-5 vs grades 6-8 or grades 9-12? Instead, it was all political. It's very frustrating. Lastly, most of the most costly "mandates" are with special eduation. I dare you to advocate that we should eliminate laws that protect the most vulnerbale students?
Suzanne Testani May 01, 2012 at 07:09 PM
With all due respect, as the mother of two college aged sons, I beg to differ Ms. Hudak. One of Trumbull's most respected educators (illustrious 40 year professional career w/ the Town and her husband as well) expressed to me that it was next to impossible to accomplish anything with the students in a mere 3 hour time frame. She disclosed this information to me when my now 22 year old son was in kindergarten at DFS. I never forgot the sage words of advice she shared w/ me that day. Just think of the advances in technology since her insightful comments. Our children won't be able to compete w/ neighboring school systems for college entrance and basically, life as we know it in general. In fact, Trumbull is one of the last remaining communities in Fairfield County to implement such a program. It's one thing to "speak" to childhood educators, and a whole different animal being the parent of children who undergo myraid educational experiences every day. Parents Our children in the town of Trumbull deserve all the exposure they can get to the incredible learning resources that are available in today's modern world. I'm sure the dedicated educators in our town will utilize their professional expertise in helping young students develop the necessary skills they will require to compete & exist in today's complex society. Please leave the politcs aside and think of the children.
Joan May 02, 2012 at 01:11 AM
If we're so concerned about our children competing in the new technological age and gaining admission to competitive colleges, then why did our FS and Town Council not provide adequate funding for our schools the past couple of years, which resulted in computer paraprofessionals being cut from our elementary schools (among other things)? It seems to me that many cuts to programs have been forced by this inadequate funding which will have a far greater impact on our children's ability to compete and succeed than offering a few more hours of kindergarten.
trumbulite09 May 02, 2012 at 07:52 PM
Suzanne - as a current mother of two 1/2 day Kindergartners, I have to disagree with you. My kids have learned a termendous amount including not being able to writing the full alpahabet in the beginning of the to pratically reading as we close the year. So, please don't underestimate the fine Kindergarten teachers ew have teaching our children. However, I would have preferred all day kindergarten and do support it. Just not with a plan that has not be more thought out and appropriately funded. My concern now is class sizes as they continue through the system, where are these new classes going to be when the schools already have portables and finally - the fact that no one is talking redistricting even though, you yourself said that is what you would support to make FDK a reality in Trumbull. My concern are the other 90% of school kids already in the system.
Dismayed Trumbullite May 02, 2012 at 09:15 PM
As a mother why didn't you teach your children the alphabet? My kids knew their letters and numbers before they entered kdg and how to write their name - the stuff parents are supposed to teach their kids and before you say anything I'm a working mom too and I found the time.
trumbulite09 May 03, 2012 at 01:38 PM
Dismayed Trumbullite - your post is condesending and insulting. Of course my children (twins) knew the alphabet and how to write their names prior to kindergarten, they were tested as are all children in Trumbull prior to entering kindergarten. They could not however write the full alphabet without help as many others can not and are not expected to. Furthermore, my children entered Kindergarten at 4 with late birthdays so before you insult someone get your facts straight. My point was, they started in September with basic knowledge expected as an entering Kindergartner. Now preparing to graduate Kindergarten, they can read simple sentence books and are ready for first grade. Suzanne's post stated that she and a 40 year veteran teacher didn't think there was enough time for children to learn in 1/2 day kindergarten, my current experience was the opposite. As for being a working Mom, kudos to you. I am too, in addition to volunteering hours in all three of my children's classroom helping to teach the skills. My children have completed every homework assignment and participated and almost every extra credit opporutnity at school. All three of my children have received great report cards with comments from 3 different teachers on what great well-behaved thoughtful children they are. I hope your child is thriving and continues to, but as my parenting techniques are concerned, keep your opinion to yourself. You do not know me or my children.
Trumbull Resident May 04, 2012 at 07:20 PM
I am very happy that Trumbull will finally implement FDK. My husband and I both work full time and this will eliminate one of us having to leave work to pick up our child from school after just a short time of being there, or having to pay for a before and after school program.


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