BY SAMANTHA MERCADO
In November of this year a group of concerned parents and community members decided that something should be done about North Rockland’s full day kindergarten issue, or lack there of.
The North Rockland full day kindergarten advocates have garnered considerable support in the North Rockland community in order to start their children “off at running speed.” With North Rockland being one of the two districts (East Ramapo being the second) in Rockland County and one of only 1.3 percent of districts in the state, who does not offer full day kindergarten, many parents are left concerned their children are being left behind.
The “Full Day K” advocates see this as a huge issue, especially with the recent implementation of Common Core. Many of the advocates are parents of children who either already went through the half-day program or are about to enter kindergarten. Parents of incoming students don’t want their children to “fall behind the 8-ball” because of the half day program. On the other hand, parents of students who have already gone through the half-day program feel that their children are unprepared for “the rigorous demand of Common Core” in first grade and grades to come.
The Full Day K advocates are not only made up of parents but educators as well. In fact their leader Jenn Teichmann, is both a mom and a full day kindergarten teacher in a neighboring district. Teichmann says that as both a teacher of full day kindergarten and a mother, she can clearly see the difference. Teichmann explained, “Kids in my class are reading by December,” attributing the success to the full time schedule. In comparison, she says kids in the half-day programs “start reading by April or May, if that.”
Speaking on behalf of the group, Teichman said they are striving to get full day kindergarten implemented in North Rockland 2016.
The Full Day K advocates have been in contact with the Board of Education, New York State Senator William J. Larkin Jr., and New York State Assemblyman Kenneth P. Zebrowski to try to move the issue forward. During their first meeting with the Board of Education, the group explained that the parents of the community feel there is a necessity for full day kindergarten. The board explained that they agreed, but with their financial obligations to the Mirant debt settlement, an almost $12 million annual payment on a 30 year loan, and the NYS tax cap, there was virtually nothing they could do.
Refusing to take no for an answer, the Full Day K advocates returned to the Board of Education at Tuesday’s meeting ready with questions and possible solutions. One of the advocates, Lea L. Greene, offered to the board: “How can we work with the board to make Full Day K a reality?” After several other advocates approached the mic with stories of their children and ideas of searching for grants, the meeting came to a close.
The Full Day K advocates left hopeful as the board invited them to an upcoming executive session meeting to further discuss their concerns.