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All-Day K Gets School Board Endorsement as Part of $85.33 Million Budget

The Southington Board of Education Thursday passed a $85.33 million budget for the 2013-14 school year, a 3.51 percent increase over the existing budget, while heavily supporting implementation of all-day kindergarten.

The Southington Board of Education on Thursday took on the challenges of finalizing a $85.33 million budget for the 2013-14 school year, but as members of the public came forward to express their opinions, the focus was on one $400,000 item: all-day kindergarten.

Supporters of all-day kindergarten came out in force for the second straight meeting, filling the assembly room at the Municipal Center to request that the board not only keep the all-day kindergarten proposal in the budget.

The voices did not go unheard, as the board by voice vote chose 8-1 to back the proposal for the upcoming year.

Board of Education member Jill Notar-Francesco said although she struggled with the decision and had a hard time to find data showing direct positive education advancements, the town shows a need to take action and to do so now.

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“I’m very data driven, although I can appreciate the social piece and the development piece. I asked for data and in the last several days, I did get that data in the form of (developmental reading assessment) and language arts,” she said. “At the end of last year, almost one third of our kindergarten students were not meeting their benchmark, and that’s why I’m voting yes.”

The proposal for all-day kindergarten has drawn considerable feedback from the community, with residents expressing opinions both for and against over the past several months, but those in attendance at the Board of Education meeting Thursday each said there is a need.

Bill Lutz, a Plantsville resident, said that times have changed since “we were all kids,” and told members of the board he not only supports all-day kindergarten but that the board should make it be the top priority.

“We all went to kindergarten, some a long time ago. It was a time for us to play and have fun, but the world has changed since then,” Lutz said. “Some may embrace that change, some may not, but that change is real. Kindergarten is now places of reading, writing, mathematics and social studies. It doesn’t leave time for developmental play, interpersonal relationships and socialization.”

“One of the enemies of excellence is to know what you have is good. We need to aspire to be more than OK, to aspire to be more than good, to aspire to be more than very good. We need to aspire to greatness,” he said.

While some board members expressed concerns, however, it ultimately came down to the need to better prepare students for the future and even board member Zaya Oshana, who teetered on the edge before voicing opposition, said it’s time to back the budget as a whole.

In the end, board member David Derynoski said it came down to six words.

“It’s the right thing to do,” he said.

The 2013-14 Board of Education budget passed on Thursday evening did see some reduction, however, as members went line item through line item to seek reductions before falling on a budget requesting a 3.51 percent increase over the current operating budget.

The budget represents a reduction of $1.12 million from the $86.45 million budget initially presented by Southington School Superintendent Joseph V. Erardi Jr.

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John Moise January 26, 2013 at 04:10 PM
Now that All Day K has been voted on by the BOE we need to turn our attention to the BOF and Town Council and figure out our financial situation. Clearly this new programs and staffing cost money and the BOE looks out what is best for the students whether we agree with them or not. Thankfully, the Board of Finance looks over the entire towns financial situation. What we have, what we are projected to get from the grand list, how the state and federal reductions will affect Southington and what we can and cannot afford. So far the financial picture does not warrant increases in services. It may not even warrant level services at this time without a significant tax increase to property tax in Southington. This will not only affect homeowners but businesses as well. Southington cannot afford to lose businesses because of high property taxes. Examine the grand list this is an area we continue to lose revenue from. For all of the "economic development " we have heard over the past 3 years we do not have much to show for it. Contact the BOF Members at boardoffinancemembers@southington.org and let them know your thoughts both positive and negative. The BOE and the group will be at the public hearing in force on March 4 at DePaolo Middle School at 7:00. The rest of the community should be there as well to protect their property taxes from increasing. If you cannot attend then email the BOF. The Chamber of Commerce members should notify the BOF as well.
Ed Costello January 26, 2013 at 05:59 PM
I think I am missing something here. What exactly did Mr. Leary state above that was opinion and not fact and what exactly do you disagree with board member Feld???? Do you not look forward to receiving the “general government” budget, the “capital projects” long range plan, and the grand list, so the members of the board can begin the challenging work of prioritizing all the desires and needs that Southington is facing?
Sue Hobbs January 28, 2013 at 01:50 AM
I find it disturbing that adults would throw around phrases like 'good grief, Kristi, shut your mouth. That's all we need is to have motormouth running.' 'And Kristi you need another valium.' You don't think those are personal attacks? Of course you don't because the people who said those things have superiority complexes and their only ability to feel power is to put other people down. It's not difficult to be polite; even if you are dumb. Good Lord, I hope your children have better role models than you and don't think that the opinions and thoughts of others are so intolerable that they must take to the posting boards and unsult people who don't agree with them. Maybe the the all day kindergarten could offer a lesson or two to the rude and mannerless parents.
E. Taylor January 28, 2013 at 11:30 AM
I just read the Courant's article about Southington all day kindergarten Mand I came away with the question. Why must teachers rush through lessons and lack sufficient time to finish to finish curriculum and provide INDIVIDUAL attention to students? My answer would be poor lesson planning and poor use of time!!!
Debra Dawidowicz January 28, 2013 at 04:41 PM
I have been following this very carefully. My children graduated from Southington schools in 91,92,99, and the last will graduate this year. Although I do not support all day kindergarten for many reasons - the simple fact is we cannot afford more taxes right now. A lot of people cant. My husband has been cut from a 40 hr week to a 32 hr week for almost a year now. Many others have had the same thing happen, or similiar things happen. There are many other things that tax money should be spent on, and increasing the school day for 5 year olds is not one. (And yes I have 9 grandbabies too). Some are home schooled, and some are in schools out of town. The fact is that there are many of us whose children have gone through Southingtons schools just the way they are now and have gone on to do great things. Money is short for many right now. Its not the time.

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