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Guilderland school board panel recommends full-day K

The Board of Education is looking for ways to fund a program that would bring full-day kindergarten to Guilderland schools.

The Early Childhood Advisory Committee on Full-Day Kindergarten made a recommendation at the school board's Wednesday, Nov. 5, meeting to implement full-day kindergarten for the 2009-2010 school year.

It's in the hands of the Board of Education now, Assistant Superintendent for Instruction Demien Singleton said.

Right now, Singleton said, it is only a recommendation and there has not been any action taken on the matter.

The board is currently working on finding ways to budget for the program for next year's launch, and will adopt a preliminary budget in early April. The public will vote on the budget May 19.

Singleton said the recommendation to implement the program comes from the plan to have a one-time allocation of state money help kick-start the program.

After a presentation from the advisory committee detailing the financial implications of the program, the board will discuss ways to fund it after its first year.

Singleton said he suspects there will be funding for the program included in the superintendent's budget.

He said the state funding for full-day kindergarten is in a "unique" category that is designed to help encourage schools to transition from half-day programs.

"Ideally we want to transition to a permanent move," Singleton said.

He said, though, that the state funding could be cut as a result of the present economic climate.

"Everything's possible," he said. "Everything's on the table."

Singleton warned that all programs are at risk of being moved to the chopping block, and the Board of Education will be forced to prioritize if the state budget is cut based on its resources.

According to information provided by the school district, the estimated cost of the program ranges from $622,000 to $811,000, including special area teachers, classroom teachers, assistants, staffing, supplies, equipment and transportation.

The reports states that the state offers $883,000 of "full-day conversion aid," $60,000 of which will be put toward classroom rentals, an amount that still leaves a minimum $12,000 surplus for implementing the program.

The board of regents has called for full-day kindergarten but still requires legislation, according to the district. Its reports state that there is a growing body of research that has pointed to important evidence that early childhood education is pivotal.""

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