BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ - An update regarding full day kindergarten was presented at last week's Board of Education meeting by Annie Corley-Hand, Principal at Mary Kay McMillin Early Childhood Center. The presentation included research and best practices in the field. She further provided the board with details of a proposed strategic plan going forward.

Corley-Hand identified the "changing landscape" of kindergarten with increased expectations in the curriculum standards. To master these skills, full-day students receive 1,080 hours of instruction while the half-day students receive 540 hours of instruction.  

The presentation pointed out that 78 percent of New Jersey's school districts have full day kindergarten programs.

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Research shows that students who were in the full day cohort exceeded the national average on standardized tests, out performing their half day counterparts based on a study that followed students through third grade. 

Results of a survey conducted by kindergarten and first grade families in the district showed 74 percent "strongly agree" that they would be interested in full day kindergarten and 85% would support a township referendum to support the implementation of full day kindergarten program.

The Board asked that Corley-Hand address their questions relating to facilities issues along with short and long term costs.  They also asked for additional research supporting full day kindergarten pupils having greater success than those with half day programs beyond third grade.  

"At this point we have more questions than answers and a multitude of options to be considered.  Our goal is to develop a program that will meet the scholastic expectations of the more rigorous core curriculum standards while still addressing the importance of the development of social skills  for our youngest students," said Board President Helen Kirsch.

Anticipated steps to move forward would include: feasibility committee would be established; a review of buildings and grounds to accommodate full day kindergarten; conduct an audit of costs associated with full day kindergarten; and explore additional options that could include a township referendum for an addition to Mary Kay McMillin Early Childhood Center.

Corley-Hand will return to the September Board Meeting with answers and updates which the Board can make a decision to form a feasibility committee to explore full day kindergarten further.

Click here to view the Strategic Plan Update for Kindergarten Presentation in its entirety. 

The next Board of Education meeting will be held on Wednesday, Aug. 27.