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Ridgewood Offers Forums On Full-Day Kindergarten Plan

Daniel Fishbein, superintendent of Ridgewood Public Schools.
Daniel Fishbein, superintendent of Ridgewood Public Schools. Photo Credit: Courtesy of Ridgewood School District

RIDGEWOOD, N.J. — When Ridgewood residents go to the polls to help choose a president Nov. 8, they’ll also vote on whether the village should have a full-day kindergarten.

The public’s questions about full-day kindergarten will be answered at two pubic forums, according to Schools Superintendent Daniel Fishbein.

The first will take place at 7 p.m. Oct. 5 at the Benjamin Franklin Middle School auditorium.

The second is set for 7 p.m. Oct. 27 at the George Washington Middle School auditorium.

The village now has the only half-day program left in Bergen County, according to the Board of Education.

If the referendum passes, 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. “I am told this is the third time a serious look was considered.”

Why is momentum building now?

Fishbein points to a January community survey, in which 73 percent of the 2,365 people who responded supported a full-day kindergarten.

“That type of data generated a compelling interest for the Board of Education to move forward with this exciting initiative,” Fishbein said.

“We may be the last in Bergen,” he added, “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 would 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 statement said.

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

According to the district, 90 percent of Bergen districts offered full-day programs in 2014. Today the exceptions are:

  • Ramsey, which has an optional, fee-based extended-day program;
  • Allendale, Franklin Lakes, and Wyckoff, which offer two half days and three full days, which costs as much to implement as a full-day program.

For more information about the proposal, CLICK HERE .

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