Guilderland delays full-day kindergarten

Plans to implement full-day kindergarten will be put on hold due to changes in the economy since an advisory committee recommended it in November.

Guilderland Superintendent John McGuire said he asked the Early Childhood Advisory Committee on Full-Day Kindergarten to reconvene after it initially recommended moving forward to include full-day kindergarten in next year's budget.

[The economy] led me to have real reservations, not about the recommendation, but the timing of the recommendation, McGuire said at the Tuesday, Jan. 20, Board of Education meeting. "Sometimes even good ideas aren't timely."

The committee's recommendation came in early November before Gov. David Paterson announced the $2.7 million state aid cut to the Guilderland Central School District in December.

McGuire said the committee met for more than a year before making the Nov. 5 report.

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.

According to the report, the state offers $883,000 of "full-day conversion aid," $60,000 of which would be put toward classroom rentals, an amount that still leaves a minimum $12,000 surplus for implementing the program. That $883,000 amount, however, is a one-time-only allocation, and the district would be responsible for funding the program after its first year.

McGuire said that conversion aid was not left out of the governor's proposal, however grant money allocated toward planning the conversion was.

The board of regents has called for full-day kindergarten but still requires legislation, according to the district. The report states that there is a growing body of research that indicates early childhood education is pivotal.

At the Jan. 20 meeting, the Guilderland Board of Education officially invited the public, via local cable broadcast, to help shape the upcoming school budget.

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