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Wantagh Superintendent Recommends Adding Full-Day Kindergarten

Acting Superintendent Maureen Goldberg recommends that school board add full-day kindergarten program into 2013/14 budget proposal.

The Wantagh School District’s top administrator is recommending to the board of education that a full-day kindergarten program be included when crafting together its 2013/14 budget proposal.

Wantagh Acting Superintendent Maureen Goldberg announced during Thursday night’s school board meeting her recommendation of full-day kindergarten program being apart of the 2013/14 budget planning process. Her endorsement of trying to expand from the district’s longtime half-day kindergarten model comes after a strategic planning committee formed by the board of education in July to study the issue held its final meeting Monday night. 

Goldberg said the committee determined that expanding to full-day kindergarten would require adding 5.5 teachers and also increase transportation costs but that the extra expenses are worth it since students would benefit. 

“The fiscal implications of rolling out a full-day kindergarten program could be considerable,” said Goldberg during Thursday night's school board meeting. “The good news is that the state provides school districts with over $600,000 in funding to support such an undertaking the first year. Although the committee endorses full-day [kindergarten] as a concept, due consideration was given and continues to be given to the manner in which the district will sustain the recurring costs.”

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The strategic planning committee also explored the possibility of closing an elementary school or clustering grades into a Princeton Plan model, but Goldberg said it was determined that both options were not feasible and are “off the table.”

Wantagh Board of Education President Michael Cucci said full-day kindergarten will be discussed during upcoming budget workshops to see if it can be included in the 2013/14 spending plan proposal that is in the parameters of the state’s new required 2 percent tax cap.

Wantagh along with East Meadow are the only two districts in Nassau County that do not offer full-day kindergarten. Neighboring districts in Seaford and Levittown have expanded to full-day kindergarten in recent years. 

Many parents who attended Thursday night’s board meeting at Wantagh High School spoke up about the importance of adding full-day kindergarten for educational reasons as well real estate values.

“I hope you guys will be able to find a way,” said Allison Meyers, who has a daughter in first grade and a 3-year old. “I hope it happens.”

“We need to keep up with the times now more than ever,” Marie Falco said. “I want this for my children and for Wantagh.” 

robert otto December 14, 2012 at 01:09 PM
New York state announced major increases in the Teacher retirement accounts (TRS) and employee retirement account (ERS). This will cost the Wantagh School District more than a million dollar increase in their upcoming 2013- 2014 budget. With the allowable cap increase around a million dollars there will be no wiggle room in the budget. Wantagh is also facing major increases in their labor contracts which will have to be offset by severe cuts in their budget. The effects on property values due to hurricane Sandy have not been factored in yet. But if home values decrease in one area their shortages have to be made up by other homeowners, Historically especially in Wantagh when the tax increase is announce only a small population in homes see this exact figure. Many property owners complain that their taxes increase by greater amounts than advertised. Now add in the cost of full day k of over 600k there is no way to sustain current programs without major cuts in other programs. My point is that the time seems to be right for full day k but at what costs. Hang on to your wallets Wantagh because someone is going to have to pay for it.
Herm December 14, 2012 at 01:50 PM
Look its simple the way I see it. Two similar homes. One in Wantagh and one in seaford or any similar town. A young couple looking to buy a house. Why would they choose Wantagh. We need full day to compete with other districts
Chris Wendt December 14, 2012 at 03:23 PM
We pay high taxes. Wantagh's children are in the distinct minority in Nassau County and NY State, in that we do not offer them full-day kindergarten. Wantagh is one of only two districts in the county and perhaps 50 out of seven hundred districts in the State that do not offer full-day kindergarten. There is no first-year taxpayer cost to implement full-day k, here. as that cost is covered by the State. After that, as is the case with everything we provide to our students, the cost is baked-in to the budget, and funding and maintaining any discreet piece of the curriculum and co-curricular and extra-curricular activities remains a matter of educational priorities, on the one hand, and value expectations for the taxes paid, on the other hand. Part of the larger equation should be viewed like this: within the context of the tax cap, if the cost of full-day kindergarten is not baked-in to the budget in years two, on, then that "savings" will certainly be available for spending on yet-to-be-negotiated salary increases and for maintaining or adding administrative positions in the future. Under either scenario, with or without full-day k, you are going to pay, up to the ceiling of the tax cap. On what do you want the school board to spend your capped tax levy dollars: full-day K, or, increased salaries and administrative costs? Cuts required by Pension increases will be made with or without full-day K. The initial cost of full-day K is fully covered.
Herm December 14, 2012 at 03:47 PM
Taxes are an inevitablity living on Long Island. We pay taxes to keep or neighborhoods good and our schools top notch. Wantagh must compete to get those families who value education. Full day is a necessity it sends a message that we in this community care about education. If we don't compete for those middle class professional families then who may I ask will fill that void.
Chris Wendt December 14, 2012 at 04:36 PM
To further illustrate my point, when Seaford went on austerity, they kept full-day kindergarten, and still have it. It has become an educational priority over there. Now, this: "Last year, Port Chester looked into cutting its full-day kindergarten program to half a day, allowing the district to scale back the number of kindergarten teachers from 15 to 7. Instead, the savings were accomplished during contract negotiations." In Port Chester, the educational priory placed on maintaining full-day kindergarten translated into a "jobs or raises" choice for their teachers union. Full-day K--and teacher jobs--won out. There will be a bill introduced into the NY State Legislature in January that would (a) mandate full-day kindergarten, and, (b) prohibit going back to half-day kindergarten to save money. With so few districts not presently offering full-day kindergarten, this bill could very well pass in 2013. The good news is that Wantagh now has a plan and is making a financial roadmap for how we can accommodate full-day kindergarten, so such mandate will not be a budget killer for us. However, should this become a mandate, the transition aid could dry-up. So there should be a fair amount of consideration for taking advantage of the $640,000 aid while it still exists.


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