Dear Editor,

We have been spearheading advocacy for Full Day Kindergarten in Chatham.  As such, we have sat through almost every Board of Education meeting for the past two years, as well as met with the finance and facilities committee and the Superintendent on more than one occasion. We appreciate the multitude of issues that our school district faces and believe the referendum is an important step in addressing some key capital improvements.

 Regardless of whether the Board of Education decides to move forward with Full Day Kindergarten, we realize how desperately the K-3 elementary schools need additional classroom space.  It follows that without additional classroom space, there is no path forward for Full Day Kindergarten in Chatham.  The proposed referendum provides for building 6 additional elementary classrooms with bathrooms.  This is a huge step on the path to implementing Full Day Kindergarten in Chatham as bathrooms are a state requirement for Kindergarten classrooms.  We understand there are additional steps involved in bringing Full Day Kindergarten to fruition and this referendum doesn’t guarantee Chatham will implement Full Day Kindergarten. 

We believe the referendum is a proactive approach to providing the necessary facilities to meet the changing programming needs within the District at a good value to the taxpayer. With state-aid available for these particular projects combined with low interest rates, the cost to taxpayers for this referendum averages about $.50/day. 

Contrary to what some have said, this referendum doesn’t tie up or take away from the District’s ability to use funds from the operating budget to meet programming needs such as Full Day Kindergarten.  Quite the opposite, if current capital projects are not addressed through a referendum the District will be left with no choice but to reallocate funds away from educational programming to address facility needs.  This is the last thing that we want to see as advocates for expanding the educational programming offered to our children.

As advocates for Full Day Kindergarten we are most vocal about the need for the additional classroom space. As parents with children under the age of 5, we have a vested interest in the school district making sustainable improvements at a reasonable cost because we want the improvements that are proposed today to support the needs of our children as they continue through the system. Accordingly, we encourage people to educate themselves about the referendum by attending one of Dr. LaSusa’s presentations or watching the videotaped one on our web site.  We also encourage community members to vote “Yes” for the referendum on April 21.

Julia Callahan
Amanda Feeman
Kelly Francini