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Narrow Victory For Full-Day Kindergarten In Ridgewood

Voter turnout in Ridgewood was 61 percent by 5:30 p.m. at the Benjamin Franklin Middle School.
Voter turnout in Ridgewood was 61 percent by 5:30 p.m. at the Benjamin Franklin Middle School. Photo Credit: Lorraine Ash

RIDGEWOOD, N.J. — Full day kindergarten was approved by Ridgewood voters Tuesday, according to unofficial election results.

Voters approved full day kindergarten in Ridgewood by a vote of 4,580 in favor and 4,444 opposed.

Voters also elected two school board members. Incumbent Jeanette Wilson received 4,405 votes while James Morgan garnered 2,951.

The village currently has the only half-day program left in Bergen County.

Since the referendum has passed, kindergarteners, starting in September 2017, will go to school from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m., just like children in the other grades.

“Full-day kindergarten has been a discussion before the Board of Education and the community for close to two decades,” Fishbein told Daily Voice.

The latest momentum for an all-day kindergarten started building after a January community survey showed 73 percent of the 2,365 people who responded supported it.

“We may be the last in Bergen,” Fishbein said, “but we will certainly work to develop a model program.”

According to a statement released by Ridgewood Public Schools, the district has a high-quality kindergarten program.

“(But) it is rushed and lacks adequate time for structured socialization and free play,” the statement reads.

Structured play, it said, helps children learn better. Unstructured play helps them develop social skills.

In a full-day kindergarten, students will have time for more of both types of play, a one-hour lunch, a snack and key content, including shared writing and reading.

Class size, currently at 18-22 students per classroom, would be unaffected.

The tax burden for a full-day kindergarten will be $111 a year on an average Ridgewood home assessed at $694,000.

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