North Rockland parents campaign for full-day kindergarten for all

Jennifer Teichmann and Lea Greene talk to concerned parents about full-day kindergarten in North Rockland School District. (Photo: Kathy Kahn)

BY KATHY KAHN

Five school districts in New York have no full-day classes for kindergarteners—and North Rockland is one of them. Two Rockland County residents last Thursday met at Stony Point’s RHO to talk to parents about changes in Common Core that make full-day kindergarten essential to meet first grade standards.

The school district has been beset by financial woes since Mirant closed in 2006, leaving the North Rockland School District (NSRD) with a whopping $275 million tax certiorari refund on New York’s books. Since then, the district has borne the burden of repaying the debt to the tune of $11.5 million a year, laying off teachers and raising taxes on homes that have pushed residents over the financial edge.

Jennifer Teihmann and Lea Greene told The Rockland Times that Assemblymen James Skoufis and Kenneth Zebrowski have been advocating for full-day kindergarten. North Rockland PTA’s Mirant Debt Committee has appealed to Albany, presenting Gov. Andrew Cuomo with a petition signed by over 10,000 residents pleading for tax relief.

To date, the NRSD has added one full-day kindergarten class in each of its elementary schools; the rest are half-days. Two hundred parents applied—but there was only room for 66 of the children in the full-time program. Paula Echevarria had one child in full-day kindergarten and her other child in the half-day program. “What a difference a day makes,” she said. “You can manage a work schedule.”

“Families that move here from New York City come up to find out they have no full-day kindergarten here and feel the school district doesn’t care about education,” said Teichmann. “If anything, the opposite is true.” Teichmann encourages parents to visit the North Rockland Parents for Kindergarten Facebook page and get involved in the process.

“We saw some positive movement in June,” said Assemblyman James Skoufis. “We crafted an agreement with the Senate and Governor, and they have committed to considering full-day kindergarten in the 2018-2019 budget. Kindergarten is crucial to learning in grades 1-12.”