Officials at the Bethlehem Central School District said at a Wednesday, Feb. 3, meeting at the Board of Education that this year's foray into full day kindergarten classes has been a rousing success for all involved.
But in a later interview, Superintendent Michael Tebbano said it now appears the state grant money promised to offset the program's startup costs may be withheld.
The BC School District embarked on the switch to full day K last fall with the assumption the state would issue a grant payment at the end of the year based on student enrolment. The district had expected about $750,000 in aid, but expanded enrolment means BC should be entitled to more than $900,000.
Tebbano said the state has indicated that payment is no longer assured as educational fall on the budgetary chopping block in Albany.
Basically, they have changed the rules of the game in mid stream, he said. "We did everything we were asked to do in filing all the paperwork in the last four years for this funding."
Tebbano said he would be visiting the capitol and meeting with legislators in coming weeks to lobby for the payment of the grant. Now that full day K is implemented and a success, however, he said there are no plans to turn back.
"The FDK program is going to succeed, but the insult is they want us to put the burden back on the school district," he said.
Slingerlands Principal Heidi Bonacquist said the full day program has been well received by kindergarten teachers, who appreciate the extra time they can spend on every activity from reading to math, to simply getting children dressed to go home in the winter.
"It's just a much more relaxed atmosphere. It makes the teachers less stressed and in turn the children less stressed," she said.