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Brick School Board OKs Full Day Kindergarten Plan

Kindergarten students will return to their local elementary schools; PLC will be repurposed

Starting in September, Brick Township kindergartners will go to school for a full day in their local elementary schools.

The Board of Education unanimously adopted a full day kindergarten program on Thursday night, paving the way for kindergarten students to attend their local elementary schools and for the Primary Learning Center to be "repurposed."

For many years, kindergarten students have attended a half-day program at the PLC, a kindergarten-only school built in a former shopping center on Chambers Bridge Road.

The board approved a plan devised by a Milltown, Middlesex County-based demographer, Ross Haber, that will transition students back to their local schools. The plan, Haber said, will allow students to be closer to home, allow kindergarten and first grade teachers to work together and require fewer school bus runs per day.

"Any plan that we make now which involves full day kindergarten, will last," said Haber, whose attendance projections determined that with a recent drop in student population, many unused classrooms in elementary schools could be used for the full-day program.

Haber's projections took into account potential shifts in population due to Superstorm Sandy, as well as potential increases in student population due to the full-day offerring, since many parents previously chose to send their children to private and parochial schools.

"A full day problem will, likely, bring a lot of these people back into the district," said Haber. "We did take that into account."

At most, Haber said, the district's student population could increase by about 630 students, though it will likely be less.

Board members agreed: it's time for a full-day program.

"Only 21 percent of school districts in New Jersey do not have full day kindergarten," said board member Larry Reid, who has pushed for full-day kindergarten since he was elected to the board.

"We've been looking at this for many months," said Reid. "When you have declining enrollment, you have empty classrooms. If we have empty classrooms, and we can fill them up with full-day kindergarten, that's a benefit for the students."

As for the Primary Learning Center building, there are many options on the table, said Board President Sharon Cantillo.

Two of those options include a fee-based preschool program to generate revenue for the district, or an academy school which would create a dedicated program for students interested in high-demand fields such as math, science or engineering.

In the mean time, the present special education students who attend classes at the PLC will remain there.

"We have many different uses for that building, all good for the students of this district," said Cantillo.

Superintendent Dr. Walter Uszenski is currently developing those options into potential plans, Cantillo said.

Kindergartners will ride to school each day on the bus with other elementary students, and Uszenski said the district will explore a "big brother and big sister" program so older students can look out for the younger ones. It's been a success in other districts, he said.

Plus, parents can expect their kindergartners to have a full day of learning with no nap time.

"Teachers can teach from bell to bell," he said.

Uszenski also said since future kindergarten students will have a leg up over previous classes, the first grade curriculum may be augmented to reflect their greater experience.

There was no cost estimate given for the program, since state aid figures for the coming school year have not yet been announced. But new teachers will be hired. Still, the cost of the plan could be offset by transportation savings as well as revenue generation from the PLC, officials said.

Kindergarten registration for the 2013-14 school year begins next week.

Watchman February 25, 2013 at 10:43 PM
Alison. you seem to have a lot to say , but not very consistent.First you say not one person spoke out against full day k.,then it changed to not one parent.Then you think Mr Finelli should move out of Brick because he asked questions and attends T.C.meetings.Im sure I heard him say he was not against what they did,but how they did it.Maybe people don't come to the meetings because of people like you or because whatever they say won't matter.OH, and I think he is the person who tells the school board what goes on at town council meeting like the Pilot program at the Foodtown site that could screw the the school district out of $500,000 a year for the next 30 years. You are probably right he didn't vote for some of them,since he ran against in the last election.
Watchman February 25, 2013 at 11:49 PM
To concerned parent/educator.I saw your post but could not find it here..My response.We don't vote on the school budget,we vote on the tax levy.The township budget has nothing to do with the school budget We don't get to vote on what the township spends unless it's a binding referendum on the ballot This years estimated school budget is $144,000,000 and estimated tax levy $97,000,000,big difference.If it's under the 2% cap we don't get to vote on the school tax levy. And it's spelled separate.
Lorraine February 26, 2013 at 11:16 PM
I agree with you 100%!
Alison March 01, 2013 at 09:29 PM
Seriously?! Lol Ok true, in one post I said "person" and one I said "parent". My bad. I thought parents were people......didn't realize the "Watchman" watches grammar so closely, please excuse me. What I said, Mr Finelli, was that in my opinion (which I'm allowed to have) you were fresh (disrespectful) to the board. If you were unhappy you should move out of Brick. Curious what the statement "maybe people don't come to the meetings because of people like you...." means? How could I deter people from coming? I was there to learn about my town. I don't even USE the brick public schools. We send our children to private school. Why would you think you were the first to tell the board about the pilot program? And thanks for the heads up...... I will make sure to look out for your name on the next ballot. Kinda explains a lot. Have a great day, mr Finelli.
Anthony March 04, 2013 at 02:23 PM
Agree 100%

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