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Update: Superintendent Encourages Residents to Attend North Branford Public Hearing on Budget

There will be a public hearing on the Town of North Branford and Board of Education's budgets, which includes a plan for full-day kindergarten.

Update: Superintendent Encourages Residents to Attend North Branford Public Hearing on Budget Update: Superintendent Encourages Residents to Attend North Branford Public Hearing on Budget Update: Superintendent Encourages Residents to Attend North Branford Public Hearing on Budget

Updated: April 2, 2012; 4 p.m.

Superintendent Scott Schoonmaker shared the following message, inviting all residents to the on Tuesday, April 3 at 7 p.m. at the cafeteria.

"This hearing is the only opportunity for the public to address the Town Council regarding the proposed budgets. In addition to Tuesday, two additional budget workshops will be held in the Town Council Chambers on both Wednesday and Thursday, April 4 and 5, also at 7 p.m. All residents are encouraged to attend all three meetings.

We would also like to inform you that the 2012-2013 Board of Education Budget Request Detail and Summary are available on the district website for your review. Please take a moment to view the two educational videos added to the district's homepage banner at
northbranfordschools.org.

The Board of Education's budget information is also attached as a PDF.

Original Story: March 29, 2012

At the , both the Board of Education and Town Manager presented proposed budgets for the 2012-13 fiscal year for the and the , respectively.

Don Winnicki, the school district’s business manager, and Superintendent Scott Schoonmaker presented the BOE’s budget, which included a proposal for full-day kindergarten at .

A Look at the Numbers

The BOE requested a 4.26 percent increase, which is a zero-growth budget. The BOE is carrying over $237,307 of the $474,614 Jobs Bill received in 2011-12 due to various savings in the 2011-12 year.

Winnicki reported this is the first year he can remember that healthcare costs will decrease. Also, all retirees will be replaced with first-year master’s positions for an additional savings with the exception of a reading consultant at JHS, which requires a sixth-year step 12 education.

See the attached PDF for the full BOE budget presentation.

Why Full-Day Kindergarten?

The state is gearing up to adopt the Common Core initiative, which will be in place in 2014.

“We’re ramping up now for the rigor of change that will affect us in two years and with the level of things they are expected to know, we won’t be able to do in a half-day setting,” said Schoonmaker. “The standards and rigor will only increase. This will give us a good jumpstart to prepare for the 2014 implementation.”

, principal of JHS, is a strong advocate for full-day kindergarten, stressing that it not only benefits students academically, but socially as well. Both Parkhurst and Schoonmaker noted that kindergarteners currently do not have recess, toys in the classroom or other time to be social. Parkhurst said many times, the students even are working while having their snack.

“The social aspect, and some of the academic aspects, are being scrunched because of time constraints,” said Parkhurst. “We don’t even have the opportunity to read to the children every single day. It’s a race in kindergarten and how the teachers do what they do in 2 ½ hours, really two because they have a half-hour special every day, is amazing.”

Parkhurst is also familiar with the increasing demands that lie ahead with Common Core.

“We want to send kids into 1st grade with the skills they need and meeting the standards they are supposed to,” said Parkhurst.

How Can We Afford It?

Schoonmaker explained that transitioning to all-day kindergarten will not add costs to the budget, but rather reallocate costs. There are currently four sessions of kindergarten with an AM and PM section of each session.

The plan is to move to six sessions of full-day instruction. In order to accommodate six session of full-day kindergarten, one 1st-grade teacher and one 2nd-grade teacher would be transferred to a kindergarten class.

With 99 students currently enrolled and 11 enrollments possibly coming in, enrollment numbers are down, not only in kindergarten but throughout the system as projected enrollment for 2012-13 is 2117 with this year’s enrollment at 2177.

“In the past, full-day kindergarten was not listed on our proposal because of the pricetag, but with decreased enrollment and going from eight to six sections, we have now the opportunity,” said Schoonmaker.

He reported that, with 110 enrolled, the kindergarten classes would have approximately 18 students per class, which is still “normal, optimal class sizes,” according to Schoonmaker. The change would add about three students per class at the 1st- and 2nd-grade levels, which is still at a “level of comfort.”

Classrooms would also be shifted so the kindergarten classes are grouped together. Schoonmaker also noted that the school also can make use of the new Family Resource Center building should the need arise in the future.

What’s Next?

There will be a public hearing on the town's and Board of Education’s budget on Tuesday, April 3 at 7 p.m. at the North Branford Intermediate School cafeteria. See the attached PDF, which is the letter sent to parents for more information.

“We’re preparing a video,” said Schoonmaker. “We want taxpayers to have a chance to see our presentation. This is their first opportunity to see our budget.”

After the public hearing, the Town Council will vote on the budget. From there, the next step is the in which the town can vote to approve or not approve the budget if the required 15 percent of voters head to the polls. Once the referendum is complete, the BOE will have its final budget number.

“Once we get the number, we’ll see what we have to work with and where we go from there,” said Schoonmaker.

More information on the town budget to follow.

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