Tags Posts tagged with "Kindergarten"

Kindergarten

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Max Rutter gets the lightbulb lit inside the new science classroom at Andrew Muller Primary School. File Photo by Rebecca Anzel

The Miller Place School District announced this week it will be expanding its educational opportunities for the 2019-20 school year through the district’s newly implemented Parent Paid Pre-K Program. Presented by SCOPE Education Services, the self-supporting program will be offered at Andrew Muller Primary School and follow state pre-kindergarten learning standards with New York State certified teachers and STEAM initiatives.

“The District is thrilled to offer this educational endeavor to our parents and future students,” said Superintendent Marianne Cartisano. “Our program represents an advanced opportunity for the young minds of our community to learn and explore early childhood education. We look forward to meeting our newest students.”

Students who will be four-years-old on or before Dec. 1 are eligible for registration at a fee of $270 per month paid directly to SCOPE. Registration can be found online at www.scopeonline.us. There is a non-refundable annual registration fee of $40 for a family’s first child and $20 for each additional child from the same family. Registration will be available to families outside of the school district, however in-district residents will receive priority placement.

The Pre-K program will take place Monday through Friday with two sessions, one being morning session at 8:45 to 11:45 a.m, and an afternoon session from 12:30 through 3:00 p.m. The District will not provide any transportation services for the Pre-K program, and guardians must provide transportation to and from the school. Families with more than one student registered for the program will receive a 10 percent sibling discount for a second child. Enrollment is limited to 18 Pre-K students per class and will be staffed with a certified teacher and teacher assistant. Meals will not be included in the program although SCOPE will provide appropriate snacks.

SCOPE representatives will facilitate an information meeting April 15 at 7:00 p.m. at the Andrew Muller Primary School café/gym for all interested parents. Additional questions parents may have regarding the program can be answered at the information session which will take place in the elementary school.

Diana Todaro speaks during the budget presentation at the board of education meeting on Wednesday night. Photo by Victoria Espinoza.

Budget season has come to the Harborfields Central School District, and residents could be in for a budget that pierces the tax levy cap.

At a Board of Education meeting on Wednesday night, Assistant Superintendent for Administration and Human Resources Francesco Ianni presented options the district has to choose from for the 2016-2017 budget, calling it an “evolving process.” Harborfields was given a small tax levy cap increase from the state, which means that the district may have to consider piercing the cap if they want to provide any new programs, or face a budget with no additions to stay within the cap.

“Approximately 17 percent of the annual budget that is coming from state aid, but that number is fluctuating everyday,” Ianni said at the meeting. “Reserve funds will account for about 7 percent, and 76 percent of the budget is coming from the community.”

The main concern with this year’s budget, Ianni said, is the .37 percent tax levy increase cap, which is limiting the district’s ability to even rollover last year’s budget. A rollover budget is the same budget as the year before.

The 2015-2016 budget was roughly $80 million, and if a rollover budget were used this year, the total would be approximately $81 million, with an increase of $1,159,907.

If the rollover budget passed, there would need to be a tax levy increase of .84 percent, according to the district, which is .47 percent more than what the state is mandating. If the district abides by the state tax levy increase cap, they will be $287,408 short of the rollover budget total.

Those variables leave the district with some options, Ianni said.

A budget within the tax levy would be $81,346,454, the district said. This would require the district to not only refuse any new mandates or potential additions like full-day kindergarten, but also to cut costs.

But if the district decided to pierce the tax cap, Ianni presented several different budgetary routes the district could take. One is what he described as the simple rollover budget, which would require less than .5 percent of an increase in the tax cap and bring the total budget to $81,633,862.

“But, what if we add some mandates?” Ianni asked during the presentation.

The district presented a potential budget that included mandates like an additional librarian, AIS teacher and an English as a New Language teacher, which would bring the budget to $81,833,862 and a tax levy increase of 1.17 percent.

Ianni said the third possible scenario is the most costly because of additions like $600,000 for full-day kindergarten, $20,000 for a teacher’s assistant testing room and anywhere from $100,000 to $150,00 for a BOCES cultural arts program. The total here brings the budget to about $82.6 million, and would bring the tax levy cap to 2.57 percent.

Ianni said the district has not made any decisions yet as to which budget they would pursue, and would continue to discuss options at various workshops and community forums over the coming weeks.

The next upcoming budget meeting was scheduled for March 5 at 9 a.m.

A full-day kindergarten class at Mount Sinai Elementary school has rug time during class. Photo by Giselle Barkley

With the Mount Sinai Elementary School’s new full-day kindergarten program, most students don’t want to miss school, even if they’re sick.

Since classes began six weeks ago, the school district’s kindergarten classes have learned to read, construct simple sentences, understand patterns and count when doing math. Six weeks ago, the majority of these students didn’t even know how to spell or identify “the” or “and” in a sentence.

Faculty and staff members, like Superintendent Gordon Brosdal and teacher Debra Santoro, who started teaching 10 years ago, said they thought the students would take longer to grasp the concepts the school teaches in the full-day program, but the shift from half-day to full-day Kindergarten has been successful, according to the school’s employees.

With the help of teachers like Santoro and the school’s new writing program, “Think, Draw, Write,” the kids aren’t only gaining confidence in their writing abilities, but are also using their creativity and applying what they learn to events in their life. During class, the kids have rug time, which is when the teacher devotes a certain amount of time teaching a lesson related to English language arts or math, among other subjects, at the front of the class. Students can then return to their desks and expand upon what they learned on the rug. Now, lessons are hands-on, allowing the kids to have a more positive outlook on learning.

“I think, in the past, we didn’t have it structured with mini lesson that’s presented in a few minutes to really grab their attention [and] convince [students] that they’re capable, and to build confidence,” Santoro said.

With the half-day kindergarten program, teachers only had 90 to 100 minutes of instruction time, as opposed to the scheduled 120 — walking from the bus to the classroom and taking off warmer clothing during the winter months took time out of the lesson. The new program gives students and teachers more time to learn and teach a lesson, Brosdal said.

“You don’t want to do it just because [the] parents both work and might need child care,” Brosdal said. “The reality is … when you look at the demands of the curriculum of ELA and math, you have to have time to learn it. When you’re rushing, it’s easy for some [children] to get left behind.”

The program also allows kids to get out of the classroom for special classes, like music, art and physical education, and learn the layout of the school and how to stay attentive despite the additional hours.

Initially, first grade teachers at the school spent the first four to six weeks teaching the kids how to get around the building as well as how to sit for a longer period of time — first grade used to be the first time former kindergarten students stayed in school for a full day.

According to Santoro, the key to preventing these students from fading as the day progresses is to keep them engaged.

Brosdal added that school officials intend to follow the progress of this group of kindergartners, especially when they enter third grade and complete their assessments for Common Core. Thus far, faculty, staff and students alike are excited about the program and the kids’ progress. Brosdal admitted he thought the change from half-day to full-day would be more difficult, but said that teachers sacrificing parts of their summer to prepare for the program by scheduling meetings with superintendents from school districts with full-day kindergarten, like Miller Place, was helpful.

“[With] new programs, sometimes you find that ‘oh you should have planned that or did that,’” Brosdal said. “[School] opened like we had [full-day kindergarten] for years.”

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Enrollment soars above school district's estimates

School board President Robert Sweeney explains the full-day kindergarten enrollment in Mount Sinai. Photo by Giselle Barkley

When Mount Sinai school board members proposed full-day kindergarten, they didn’t expect 160 students to enroll.

But the new program brought an enrollment increase of more than 40 percent, according to numbers the Mount Sinai Board of Education examined during a recent meeting, leading the district to hire another teacher.

By the end of the 2014-15 academic year, which had half-day kindergarten, there were around 112 students enrolled. With the 2015-16 enrollment, Mount Sinai had to bump up the number of teachers to seven.

Superintendent Gordon Brosdal explains the full-day kindergarten enrollment in Mount Sinai. Photo by Giselle Barkley
Superintendent Gordon Brosdal explains the full-day kindergarten enrollment in Mount Sinai. Photo by Giselle Barkley

In May, the board estimated that 125 students would enroll in the full-day program, but by mid-July, there were 151 students.

“All year long … we promoted full-day K at a number around 125 and [aid Mount Sinai received from the state] was based on that number,” Superintendent Gordon Brosdal said. The increase “was a little bit alarming to the board and myself.”

Brosdal said the new program could be popular because full-day kindergarten is easier for a parent’s schedule. He expects several more children to enroll before class starts on Sept. 8, pushing kindergarten enrollment past 160 students.

According to Linda Jenson, assistant superintendent for business, the extra teacher the district had to hire added $85,000 to the budget, bringing the total program cost to $635,000.

Despite that increase, residents will not see taxes go up, Jenson said. Officials dug up the extra money from within the approved $56.7 million budget for 2015-16.

Mount Sinai lengthened the kindergarten day to give young students more time to learn subjects like language arts, math, social studies, science and music.

“We wanted to give our kids and our teachers adequate time to address Common Core, the demands of the curriculum,” Brosdal said.

In half-day kindergarten, students were in school from 8:55 a.m. until 11:05 a.m. With the full-day program, they will stay in the classrooms until 2:58 p.m.

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Mike Riggio, center, speaks to his new fellow school board trustees following Tuesday’s election. Photo by Erika Karp

Full-day kindergarten is officially coming to the Mount Sinai Union Free School District, as residents approved a $56.7 million budget for the 2015-16 school year.

Under the spending plan, the district will expand its current half-day kindergarten program to full — a move backed by many parents as well as the teachers’ union. The budget also maintains class sizes, offerings and extracurricular activities, and brings the Columbia University’s Teachers College Writing Project — which provides writing curriculum and professional development for teachers — to grades kindergarten through fifth.

The budget passed with 1,241 yes votes to 316 votes against.

Superintendent Gordon Brosdal, who joined the district last summer, called the support “outstanding,” and expressed satisfaction that Mount Sinai would no longer be one of the few districts on Long Island left without full day kindergarten.

“To have that margin means to me the community supported the budget,” he said on Tuesday after the vote.
A resident with an average assessed home value of $3,500 will see an annual tax increase of $156.

Throughout the past few months, school board trustees and officials have urged residents to show up and vote. The district has had a relatively low voter turnout over the years, and Brosdal previously stated that elected officials do take notice. Compared to last year, 40 more residents cast a ballot in the budget vote.

“I think, to a degree, voters did hear our plea and came out,” Trustee Ed Law said.

The budget wasn’t the only item residents voted on. They also approved a proposition for library services at either the Comsewogue Public Library or Port Jefferson Free Library, and re-elected incumbent board trustee, Lynn Capobianco, to a second term, and newcomer Mike Riggio with 678 votes and 993 votes, respectively.

Candidates John DeBlasio and Joanne Rentz missed election.

Despite his loss on Tuesday, DeBlasio, a 54-year-old attorney, said he was happy the budget passed. Rentz, a 51-year-old brand manager, was not immediately available for comment on Wednesday. In a Facebook post Tuesday night, she thanked her supporters and said she hopes for great things in Mount Sinai.

Riggio, a 42-year-old retired New York City Police Department commander in the department’s counterterrorism unit, touted his security background and budgeting experience during his campaign. He said on Tuesday evening that he wanted to thank everyone who voted and that win or lose, the experience was “cool.”

“I think people like how I was honest,” he said.

Capobianco, a 65-year-old retired Mount Sinai school librarian, said she was grateful for the community’s support and excitement about full-kindergarten, now a reality.

“I am thrilled that our program is now a full k-12 program,” she said. “… It has been a long time coming.

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Stock photo

The Comsewogue School District will be conducting a lottery to determine which students will be attending its half-day pre-kindergarten program this fall.

The lottery will be held at the district office on Monday, June 15, at 11 a.m.

Applications will be mailed to all district residents and are also available in the main office of each of the district’s schools and at the district office.

Completed applications are due back to the district office by 2:30 p.m. on Friday, May 22.

Contact Jennifer Reph, assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction, at 631-474-8110, with any questions.

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Full-day kindergarten included in spending plan

Mount Sinai’s administration and board — including Superintendent Gordon Brosdal and BOE President Robert Sweeney — will ask taxpayers to weigh in on a capital bond proposal Dec. 11. File photo by Erika Karp

Over the last four years, only an average of 17 percent of registered voters in the Mount Sinai school district came out to the district’s annual May budget and school board election. This year, Superintendent Gordon Brosdal is urging residents to actually show up to the polls.

Prior to making his last presentation on the district’s proposed $56.7 million 2015-16 school year budget, which the school board unanimously adopted, Brosdal took a few minutes to remind the larger-than-usual crowd that every vote matters.

“If people vote yes or no, that’s their issue, but please come out and vote,” he said at the April 22 school board meeting. “All of you. Encourage your friends, neighbors.”

Elected officials, those who decide how much state aid the district gets, will take notice, according to Brosdal.

While the district budgeted for no increase in state aid over the current year, the district received $391,860 more than anticipated. Included in the total $16.4 million aid package, is more than $500,000 in kindergarten conversion aid, as the district plans to transition from a half-day to full-day kindergarten program.

The possible change has been a topic of discussion for a year, with many parents backing the move, as students require additional classroom time in order to keep up with the Common Core Learning Standards.

Last month, the district committed to making the jump and included the full-day program in its budget proposal.

At the April 22 meeting, Brosdal said that after he recently saw Miller Place’s newly implemented full-day kindergarten program he was “kind of elated” by what he witnessed at the school and how much the students were learning.

“We are leaving kids behind in our current program,” Brosdal said.

But school officials have repeatedly reminded residents that the budget just isn’t about kindergarten. There is still a whole K-12 program that the budget maintains and betters.

Under the spending plan, which increases nearly 3.3 percent from the current year, class sizes, class offerings and programs are maintained. In addition, the district will begin following Columbia University’s Teachers College Writing Project, which provides writing curriculum and professional development for teachers, in grades kindergarten through fifth.

A resident with an average assessed home value of $3,500 will see an annual tax increase of $156.

The slight increase in state aid also helps the district’s three-year outlook, as it won’t have to rely as much on appropriating fund balance year after year. In the past, board President Robert Sweeney pointed to the 2017-18 school year as to when the district’s surplus would be depleted. However, according to current district estimates, the fund balance would remain at nearly 2 percent of the operating budget that year.

“We’re now in a position that we can develop our program each year and develop our program positively,” he said.

Committee established to look into 2016-’17 implementation

Harborfields Superintendent Diana Todaro. File photo by Rohma Abbas

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.”

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Gordon Brosdal addresses parents about full-day kindergarten on Wednesday. Photo by Erika Karp
A small contingent of parents erupted into a round of applause at Mount Sinai’s Wednesday night school board meeting, as Superintendent Gordon Brosdal announced that full-day kindergarten is included in his 2015-16 budget proposal.
Gordon Brosdal addresses parents about full-day kindergarten on Wednesday. Photo by Erika Karp
Gordon Brosdal addresses parents about full-day kindergarten on Wednesday. Photo by Erika Karp

The meeting marked the first time district administrators committed to making the jump from half-day kindergarten. However, they were quick to remind parents that the move helps more than just the youngest students.

“It’s not a full-day K budget,” Brosdal said. “By giving our kids full-day K, you’re benefiting our entire program.”

The school board still must vote on whether to adopt the budget next month before it goes to a community vote on May 19. The proposed $56.7 million plan increases spending by a little more than 3 percent over the current year and stays within the school district’s tax levy increase cap of 1.86 percent.

Last month, a group of residents spoke in support of full-day kindergarten, saying students need the additional classroom time to meet the new Common Core Learning Standards.

Supporters of the plan had previously expressed concerns that students would fall behind under a half-day program, as there isn’t enough time to cover all the topics required by the Common Core. This was also a worry for Brosdal, who said under a full-day program students would have extra time to learn and would benefit down the line, as would their teachers, who will no longer have to worry about playing catch-up.

Last month, Renee Massari, one of the parents who supported the full-day plan, said she supported full-day kindergarten because she is seeing her son struggle this year as a first-grader who went to a half-day program. On Wednesday, she thanked the district administrators for proposing the change.

“I think I am speaking on behalf of plenty of people when I say thank you and we are excited.”

While the district is receiving $459,125 in state aid to help implement the program, it will still have to spend $90,000 of its own funding to cover the cost. In past budget presentations, officials had estimated a higher district cost.

At previous meetings, school board members agreed that full-day kindergarten was important for student success, but were hesitant to propose the change, as they wanted to make sure the district’s current Kindergarten through 12th grade offerings were maintained and the full-day program would be sustained in the future.

“The board and myself annoyed you perhaps, but you have to look at the budget down the road,” Brosdal said.

On Wednesday, school board President Robert Sweeney spoke about some of the challenges in budgeting for the upcoming school year, as the district grapples with a dwindling surplus, which could run out by 2017-18.

Even so, he said he remained optimistic about the future, as the school board members advocate for additional education aid and legislators move to restore the Gap Elimination Adjustment, a reduction in aid for each school district that was once used to plug a state budget deficit.

Sweeney thanked residents for their patience, but was blunt about the importance of voting in the future.

“Where will you be in the future, as a community, in terms of supporting your school?” he asked.