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Schalmont adopts full-day Kindergarten

The Schalmont Board of Education approved full-day kindergarten for the school district in a unanimous vote at the Monday, April 27, Board of Education meeting.

[We] had a big committee, and they had surveyed the public. We were trying to get input from the community forum that we held and surprisingly a lot of people wrote in without [our prompting] telling us about it, said Melissa Braham, spokeswoman for the Schalmont Central School District.

The move to full days would take place at all three of Schalmont Central School District's elementary schools " Jefferson Elementary, Mariaville Elementary and Woestina Elementary and would begin in September.

"For the most part, I would say about 90-95 percent of parents wanted it, and I think the small number of concerns had to do with whether or not their children were ready," said Valerie Kelsey, superintendent of the Schalmont Central School District.

Schalmont will be able to fully fund the program without increasing the school tax levy because the district can realign certain classrooms at Jefferson, therefore allowing them to avoid building any new classrooms. The remaining costs for staffing, furniture and supplies will be covered by the combination of a state planning grant for full-day kindergarten, federal stimulus funds for the expansion of early education services, incentive aid from the state for expanding to full-day kindergarten and savings of more than $100,000 in mid-day kindergarten transportation costs.

"Many of our parents have expressed interest in a full-day program," said Kelsey in a written statement. "Their priority is their children's development, but the additional financial benefit means a lot in this economy."

According to the New York State Board of Regents, children in full-day kindergarten programs, on average, make greater gains in reading and math achievement scores than their peers who attend half-day programs or who are not enrolled in kindergarten. Such programs also reduce drop-out rates and the need for intervention services. Schalmont Central School District, which considered but was unable to fund a full-day program in 2004, is one of just a few school districts across the state that did not offer full-day kindergarten.

"Children in Schalmont deserve the same opportunities for academic success that most of their neighbors now have. By making use of this aid, we could give them that," said Kelsey in a written statement. "The majority of children entering kindergarten are ready for this transition as they have previously been in kindergarten and daycare."

For information, go to www.schalmont.org.""

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