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Schalmont goes ahead with full-day K

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

It will take place at all three of Schalmont Central School District's elementary schools Jefferson Elementary, Mariaville Elementary and Woestina Elementary and will begin in September.

We received feedback from parents both via e-mail and phone " we received more than 45 responses and overwhelmingly they were very positive and looking forward to the implementation of full-day kindergarten," said Mellissa Braham, communications specialist for the Schalmont Central School District.

"We're very thankful for all of the parent feedback and I think it definitely helped the school board as they looked at not only the academic, social and financial benefits for students and parents, but also parent-feedback and their feelings on the issue," said Braham.

The timing would also take advantage of an opportunity to fully fund the program through a combination of state aid, federal stimulus funds and savings in transportation costs.

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 dropout rates and the need for intervention services. Schalmont Central School District, which considered but was unable to afford a full-day program in 2004, is one of just a few school districts across the state to not yet 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 Superintendent Valerie Kelsey in a written statement.

Schalmont would be able to fully fund this investment in early education through a combination of state aid, federal stimulus funds and savings in transportation costs. In part, this is because the district can realign existing classrooms at Jefferson and avoid building any new classrooms. The remaining costs for staffing, furniture and supplies would be covered by the combination of a state planning grant for full-day kindergarten, federal stimulus funds for the expansion of early education services under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, incentive aid from the state for expanding to full-day kindergarten, and savings of more than $100,000 in mid-day kindergarten transportation costs. The implementation of full-day kindergarten would not change the 2009-2010 school budget proposal, which does not increase the school tax levy.

For information visit www.schalmont.org.

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