Voters Debate the Full-Day Kindergarten Warrant Article

Voters in March will be asked to vote on whether or not they support moving forward with all day kindergarten in Londonderry, which will also ask voters to approve raising and appropriating $11.1 million, which would have an estimated tax rate impact of 4 cents in year one, 14 cents in year two, and 13 cents in year three.
The School Board previously voted 4-1 to recommend the article and the Budget Committee voted 4-3 in support of the warrant article.
School Board member, Amanda Butcher, said the warrant article comes after almost five years of gathering information and doing research related to offering all day kindergarten in Londonderry.
“Compared to the rest of the country, we’re in the minority,” she said, noting that they are one of the only districts in the state that doesn’t offer full-day kindergarten at this point.
One of the biggest arguments that have been made is that students would get an additional 103 more days of learning after their first year in school, compared to the half day model.
Butcher explained that right now it’s difficult for teachers to fit everything into one short day. She added that right now it’s difficult for working parents in order to maneuver their schedules with a half-day model.
Budget Committee Chair, Patrick Cassidy, who is in support of the warrant article, said “I think it’s the right thing for our students.”
“Why not start our students ahead and help them excel, and help them succeed,” he said.
He also argued that if they are going to move forward with full-day kindergarten one day, then it makes sense to do it now, since otherwise the cost will likely increase.
“If we’re not going to do it now, when are we going to do it,”he said.
School Board member, Tim Porter, who was the lone vote from the School Board against the full day kindergarten project said he views it as a “want.”
“At this point, I believe a full day program falls in the category of a want not a need,” he said, during a previous School Board meeting.
Kristine Perez, said she has heard from a lot of parents who think their kids might not be able to “tolerate” all day kindergarten, and said that she thinks they should’ve explored different options like having half day options as well, in order to give families a choice, something done in other districts.
Perez also said that when it comes to putting out information, in order to educate voters, one thing people want to know is what the difference will be when it comes to curriculum between the half day kindergarten program, and the full day kindergarten program.
“I suggest you rethink your information that you’re giving out,” she said during the Deliberative Session.
Kelsey Goldman, however, said she is just becoming a parent and when becoming a parent “you look at that map very differently,” referring to a map of the different towns that do or don’t offer full-day kindergarten.
The full day kindergarten expansion would add 18.013 square feet and would include 11 new full size kindergarten classrooms, adding a cafeteria/gym, and adding an additional adult bathroom.

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