Education

Full Day Kindergarten Not Yet Feasible, Committee Says

563bb78a890a1fda86fa_DSC01341.JPG
563bb78a890a1fda86fa_DSC01341.JPG

BRIDGEWATER, NJ - After several meetings of the K-8 Steering Committee to focus on the implementation of full day kindergarten, it was the recommendation that the district wait until 2017 to possibly move forward.

Initial meetings in September and October focused on breaking down enrollment and the financial elements of implementing full day kindergarten.

At the Oct. 24 meeting, according to superintendent Victor Hayek, principals from each of the elementary schools presented their plans for the program’s implementation, graduating third and fourth graders and projecting enrollment levels.

Sign Up for E-News

It was determined that Hamilton Primary would be ready for full day kindergarten, as would Milltown Primary.

Van Holten Primary would need additional specials sections, and Crim Primary would possibly need to repurpose the teacher’s workroom to become a classroom. John F. Kennedy Primary would also be feasible with possibly the addition of a lunch period.

Bradley Gardens Primary had the least amount of bathrooms for classrooms, as required by state law for kindergarten classes, so at least one more would need to be built for adjoining classrooms. Additional sections of physical education would be needed, but it would be tight because the gym is also the cafeteria.

Adamsville, Hayek said, proves to be the biggest challenge because of the pre-k program, and the need for more bathrooms to accommodate kindergarten.

“We would have to move the pre-k program out, or substantially increase class sizes,” he said. “We thought about moving pre-k out of Adamsville, but that defeats the purpose, so we were thinking of creative ways to move it out and lease the space somewhere else.”

Hayek said there have also been discussions on reconfiguring the schools, making the middle school grades six through eight, the intermediate schools four and five and the primary schools kindergarten through third.

“We did realize that we were just chopping and dicing and making things complicated,” he said. “It didn’t solve much of the space problem.”

But given the projected enrollment numbers, Hayek said, it could be a possibility to plan for the implementation in September 2017 when the current third grade is in sixth grade and those school reconfigurations could be made.

“Based on the enrollment projections, BRMS would be 1,800 students, which is a possibility,” he said. “It would require some creative scheduling and utilizing all the classroom space.”

“It gives us the ability to plan for staffing over the three years, improve class size efficiency and take advantage of the time to do more detailed planning,” he added.

On Nov. 24, Hayek said, the committee met again to put a focus on the finances. Because staffing and benefits are 75 percent of the budget, he said, they determined that they can’t add full day kindergarten without severely impacting the current programs and staffing.

There is the option to ask the voters to increase the budget over the 2 percent cap to accommodate the program, but the first opportunity to do that would be November 2015, for implementation in September 2016.

Hayek said they examined some other options, including becoming a choice district to take students from other districts, accepting students from other districts for academy programs or other tuition revenue programs.

“There are two possible directions,” he said. “Either put out the second question and leave it to the voters to enable us to increase the budget, or closely monitor enrollment over the next three years and reevaluate as space opens up.”

Board president Jeffrey Brookner said he went into this process optimistic and with no intention of supporting putting the budget up for a ballot vote.

“But I have concluded that in the foreseeable future, there is no way we could pull off full day kindergarten without the second question,” he said.

The budget, Brookner said, always increases because there is a 1.3 percent increase in salaries and another 1.2 percent increase in benefits. 

“In my opinion and the committee’s opinion, unless we are talking about cutting programs, doing something drastic like that, we do not have the resources to add something huge,” he said.

No decisions have been made yet on the future of full day kindergarten implementation.

TAP Into Another Town's News:

Sign Up for E-News

Bridgewater/Raritan

Upcoming Events

Tue, July 17, 9:00 AM

The Wayrick Gallery, Scherman Hoffman Wildlife Sanctuary, Bernardsville

NJ Audubon: NJ Audubon Photography Instructors’ ...

Arts & Entertainment Green

Tue, July 17, 9:00 AM

The Center for Contemporary Art, Bedminster,

2018 Members’ Non-Juried Exhibition & Sale

Arts & Entertainment

Somerville Woman Arrested for Shoplifting from Macy's, According to Bridgewater Police Report

July 14, 2018

BRIDGEWATER, NJ - A Somerville woman was arrested for allegedly shoplifting more than $400 worth of merchandise from Macy's at the Bridgewater Commons Mall July 7, according to a report from Bridgewater Township Police.

Sara Morales-Silva, 51, was charged with shoplifting after she was found with about $435.04 worth of merchandise from the store.

She was processed and released pending a ...

Cardiologist Takes Helm at Hunterdon Medical Center

July 17, 2018

RARITAN TWP., NJ – There’s a new guy at the top.

Dr. Robert J. Cody is now the Interim President and CEO of Hunterdon Healthcare System, the corporate parent of Hunterdon Medical Center. He replaces long-time chief executive Robert P. Wise, who announced his retirement in May.

Cody brings a varied background to the job. He is a licensed cardiologist, but he also holds an MBA. He ...

Somerville: Gallery Hosts Photo Society's 90th Anniversary Exhibit

July 15, 2018

SOMERVILLE, NJ – Arts on Division is presenting “Visions of Raritan Photographic Society – A Celebration of 90 years” from Thursday, July 19 to Sunday, Aug. 19, 2018 at the Gallery on Division, 15B Division Street.

The Raritan Photographic Society, founded in 1929, is the oldest photography club in New Jersey. The exhibit celebrates the organization's 90 years ...

'Servant of Two Masters' exudes foolish fun

‘Servant of Two Masters’ makes for foolish, frivolous fun

By Liz Keill

MADISON, NJ –Carlo Goldoni’s “The Servant of Two Masters,” in a rousing translation and adaptation by Bonnie J. Monte, has the outdoor audience at The Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey laughing and clapping all the way through.

The yearly production, held at the amphitheatre on the ...

Take Action to Reduce Debt

In our last article, we broached the subject of debt and the township’s reliance – or over-reliance – on debt to fund our yearly expenditures for items such as roads. So, ok, we want to reduce our reliance on debt moving forward, especially as the cost of borrowing is rising. What’s the solution?

Well, there’s no magic wand we can wave to suddenly end ...

Is the Mediterranean Diet Still the Best for Heart Healthy Eating?

The Mediterranean diet has long been the standard for heart healthy eating.  It is a diet that emphasizes olive oil, fresh vegetables, nuts, whole grains over refined grains, fish and plant-based protein over red meat, herbs and spices to flavor food over salt, and fresh fruit for dessert instead of refined sweets. The US News and World Report even named the Mediterranean diet its ...

Celebrate Summer with Freedom & Responsibility

Parents and students rejoice!

School is out and everyone can now experience a great sense of freedom. Kids want to be outside enjoying summer weather and; although it’s the most wonderful season for non-academic activities involving swimming, traveling, and hiking to name a few, let us not forget that summer loss is a serious long-term result of not opening a book or writing for eight ...

Unique Skill Set Offers Students an Advantage

One of our SAT prep students recently gained a lot of attention for being accepted to all seven of the Ivy League schools to which she had applied, as well as to Stanford University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (M.I.T.) She has chosen to attend M.I.T. and major in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science.

Of course, Diana had earned stellar SAT scores and had a most impressive ...

Geoffrey the Giraffe Moves In To New Brunswick Children's Hospital

July 12, 2018

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ - Over a stretch of nearly 70 years, Geoffrey the Giraffe at Toys R Us stores was the symbol of happy times for generations of children, and now he may provide those same feelings for children coming to a hospital.

"From this day forward, Geoffrey stands tall in our lobby to encourage our smallest patients to smile when they enter our facilities," said John ...