By Janee Law
The Harborfields School District, the only district on Long Island without full-day kindergarten, hosted a community forum Wednesday night to discuss the possibility of implementing such a program for the 2016-2017 school year.
“We want to update the community and initiate a discussion with the board to see how a program of that nature for full-day kindergarten will fit into the budget and how can we sustain it over the years,” said Francesco Ianni, assistant superintendent for administration and human resources and chair of the full-day kindergarten committee.
Although numbers are still being fine tuned, Ianni said it would cost about $500,000 to convert to full-day kindergarten.
Ianni said the community will have more information once the budget is finalized.
After a full-day kindergarten program was not added to the 2014-2015 budget, Jennifer
Rogdakis, 35, whose 5-year-old son, Christian, attends Washington Drive Primary School, rallied residents together, developing a Facebook page and an online petition in March 2015.
“I started learning that we were the last school on Long Island to have full-day kindergarten, as well as that 98.7 percent of New York State has full-day kindergarten,” Rogdakis said. “I felt that the petition and a Facebook page would build awareness to the community because I don’t think that people realized that.”
With more than 700 districts in New York, Harborfields is one of only nine districts without full-day kindergarten program. Since the recent adoption of the K-12 New York State Learning Standards for English language arts and mathematics, the curriculum for kindergarteners has changed.
“Our teachers, who are amazing, are just struggling with the current curriculum that have been placed on them and they’re doing the best with what they have,” Rogdakis said, adding that a half-day program doesn’t allow enough time for students to learn and develop social skills through play. “The full-day would allow them more than just extra time academically, it would help them in the scope of becoming people now.”
With 410 members on the “Fair Start: Harborfields Residents for Full-Day Kindergarten” Facebook page, the online petition on change.org has gathered 543 signatures.
The board will continue its research to assess the need for a full-day kindergarten program starting in February, according to a district presentation.
“[The full-day program] can no longer be considered an enhancement or a recommendation, because almost every other school district in New York have it,” Rogdakis said. “Our young children deserve a fair start to learn to love education and that’s all I want for my kids.”