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Public Vote Likely For Ridgewood Full-Day Kindergarten

Ridgewood Board of Education members agreed on a plan to move forward with full-day kindergarten.
Ridgewood Board of Education members agreed on a plan to move forward with full-day kindergarten. Photo Credit: Joshua Jongsma

RIDGEWOOD, N.J. — Ridgewood school officials agreed on Monday to move forward with a plan to put full-day kindergarten to a public vote.

Superintendent of Schools Dr. Daniel Fishbein recommended the Board of Education place a question in the November election whether or not to approve full-day kindergarten.

"I think this is the right solution for Ridgewood," board member Jennie Smith Wilson said. "I think it gives us a chance to create an excellent kindergarten program."

In the proposal from Fishbein, full-day kindergarten would start in September 2017 if approved. The increased time in class would be used to "foster curiousity" and "encourage imaginative play."

"It's not going to be babysitting," he said.

The board and superintendent also wanted to create equal opportunities for all students, rather than start a tuition program that only would include some children.

Board President Sheila Brogan said it was good to give everyone more time to prepare for the increase in kindergarten time and how to fund it. More information such as the amount of money needed for full-day kindergarten will be discussed at future meetings, Brogan said.

Fishbein said it wouldn't be possible to fund it through the budget, which made the ballot question necessary.

He noted how Ridgewood spends much less per pupil than many similar districts. Ridgewood spends $14,297 per student, compared to $21,059 in Franklin Lakes, $17,701 in Paramus, and $16,355 in Midland Park, the superintendent said.

The lower spending and state laws that limit a budget increase to 2 percent prevents the board from substantially increasing the budget, Fishbein said.

"We do provide our students with a great education for what I feel is a reasonable per pupil expenditure," he said. "This is really the reasoning why we can't find the money within our budget."

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