Education

Caldwell-West Caldwell School Board Maps Presentation on Facilities & Full-day Kindergarten

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WEST CALDWELL, NJ—Presentations on kindergarten, full-day kindergarten and short-term and long-term facilities planning will be on the agenda at the Monday, Nov. 14 regular meeting of the Caldwell-West Caldwell Board of Education at 7:30 p.m.

Superintendent of schools James Heinegg announced the presentations at Monday’s public conference session. Heinegg also said he and his staff would make a presentation on the Third Grade Touchstone Program at the same meeting.

Analysis of the short-term and long-term options for facility and staffing needs to implement a full-day kindergarten program were among 2016-2017 district goals announced in September by the school body.

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More specifically, the superintendent said in August that one of the proposed goals was to develop a proposal to submit a plan for new facilities in the district following a public referendum.

Should placing of a referendum on the ballot be approved, the public would vote on:

  • Whether the district should be permitted to issue bonds to finance construction of new school facilities; and
  • Whether property taxes should be increased to pay for the additional staff needed to provide instruction and other services in the expanded facilities.

During his August presentation the schools’ superintendent said Kindergarten class size in the future would depend on what decisions are made concerning facilities.

On the full-day kindergarten question in the recently completed community survey, 22 percent of survey respondents said tt was a nice concept, but not a top priority, while 61 percent said that FDK should be a top priority.

As for the use of various school facilities for expansion of kindergarten and other grades, this is how the number of respondents for each option broke down:

• 347 said Harrison School should be converted into an early childhood education center.

• 321 said Harrison should be a strictly kindergarten-to-fifth-grade facility.

• 249 believed that the district should build a new building devoted strictly to the fifth grade.

• 209 supported a kindergarten wraparound program.

• 194 believed that renovation should happen at Washington School.

The superintendent noted in August that a demographer hired by the district believed that all the enrollment growth in the district should be accommodated at Washington and that all district buildings would not be appropriate for renovations to accommodate enrollment growth.

As for increasing taxes to pay for FDK, survey percentages as each level of possible increases broke down this way:

• $100 to $200—30 percent

• $100 to $150—16 percent

• $50 to $100—20 percent

• Less than $50—13 percent

On the question of increasing taxes to reduce class size, 491 respondents, or the majority, agreed with this concept.

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