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Ridgewood Committee Begins Homework On Full-Day Kindergarten Program

Benjamin Franklin Middle School teacher and Ridgewood mom Noreen Clarke hopes Full-Day Kindergarten will be implemented in time for her younger child to enroll.
Benjamin Franklin Middle School teacher and Ridgewood mom Noreen Clarke hopes Full-Day Kindergarten will be implemented in time for her younger child to enroll. Photo Credit: Noreen Clarke

RIDGEWOOD, N.J. — While Demographer Ross Haber at last week’s Ridgewood Board of Education meeting announced in a preliminary report that the district has the facilities needed to implement a full-day Kindergarten program, officials say they still have more homework to do.

“We are in the beginning stages of this ongoing project,” Board of Education President Sheila Brogan told Daily Voice.

“We set a goal to explore what it would take to implement or move Kindergarten from half-day to full-day and," she said. "The Full-Day Kindergarten Committee [comprised of Ridgewood parents, school administrators and BOE members] is in the early stages of collecting information.”

The Committee will be visiting other school districts to look at their programs and talk to officials about how they got started.

Brogan estimated that approximately 80 percent of municipalities in Bergen County have full-day Kindergarten programs — including Glen Rock, which implemented its program this year.

“It would be safe to say we’re in the minority of districts not offering it,” Brogan said.

There appears to be the ability to implement full-day Kindergarten if room rearrangements are made to accommodate students, Brogan said.

The current enrollment number is bound to change, she said, as are taxes and the budget, Supt. Daniel Fishbein said.

“When you go from half day to full day, it costs more,” he said.

Full-day Kindergarten is necessary given the high standards that are being imposed on young students, Benjamin Franklin Middle School teacher and Ridgewood mom of two Noreen Clarke said.

"Children are expected to know their letters, how to read and do more complicated, higher-level work at a Kindergarten level," said Clarke, "and they're doing it in 2.5 hours."

Not only are all children incapable of doing that, but they're missing out on other activities — "snack time, play time and other things... that are developmentally, socially and emotionally appropriate for a 5-year-old," she said.

"That has to be taken out of their days because they have to do what the state is telling them has to get accomplished in Kindergarten."

Clarke is the founding administrator of Parents for Full Day Kindergarten In Ridgewood , a Facebook group with more than 400 members. The group serves as a forum for all parents who want to pursue and support the initiative.

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