The Harborfields school board has green-lighted the creation of a committee that will explore the possibility of implementing full-day kindergarten in the district — a program residents say is key to early childhood education.
An online petition spearheaded by parent Jennifer Rogdakis sometime last month calls on the district to create a full-day kindergarten program, as parents feel the current half-day program is not enough for students. Roughly 400 parents have signed onto the petition.
Rogdakis, a parent of a 4-year-old and 6-month-old, said full-day kindergarten is crucial for successfully implementing the Common Core Learning Standards. She also said she feels the standards are designed with full-day kindergarten in mind.
“Half-day is not enough anymore,” Rogdakis said. “I don’t want my son to feel he has to catch up in two years.”
Harborfields school district residents aren’t alone in their desire to see full-day kindergarten at their district. Local districts have made strides towards full-day kindergarten. The Northport-East Northport school board just approved a proposed budget that would include full-day kindergarten and the Huntington school district brought the program back last year. The change.org petition claims Harborfields is in the minority of districts statewide without full-day kindergarten.
“It is incumbent upon the district and board to give our children the same opportunity for quality education as children in 97 percent of New York State school districts,” the petition reads.
Following the launch of the petition, the school board announced at its March 7 meeting the new committee that would explore full-day kindergarten in the 2016-17 school year.
According to a letter from Superintendent Diana Todarao, the district is currently accepting applications from residents who are interested serving on committee. The application can be found on the district’s website. Rogdakis said she has handed in her application and wants to be on this committee. She praised the district and said it could suffer without full-day kindergarten.
Centerport resident Marge Acosta said she feels students are done a disservice with a half-day kindergarten program. She criticized the two-and-a-half hour school day and said it isn’t enough time for students to learn. Acosta said it’s as difficult for teachers as it is for students, because teachers are forced to squeeze in what they can during the roughly two-hour day.
“This is the time when their brains are developing and their skills are developing,” Acosta said. “This is the time to put money into their education.”
The school board said it and the district greatly value the community’s input on the matter and are appreciative of their feedback.
“In an effort to fully investigate the need for full-day kindergarten, we thought it was necessary to involve our community in the process from the very beginning,” according to the statement. “This committee, which will be comprised of a variety of community residents, will present their findings to the board in the early fall.”