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Brick School Board OKs Full Day Kindergarten Plan

Kindergarten students will return to their local elementary schools; PLC will be repurposed

Starting in September, Brick Township kindergartners will go to school for a full day in their local elementary schools.

The Board of Education unanimously adopted a full day kindergarten program on Thursday night, paving the way for kindergarten students to attend their local elementary schools and for the Primary Learning Center to be "repurposed."

For many years, kindergarten students have attended a half-day program at the PLC, a kindergarten-only school built in a former shopping center on Chambers Bridge Road.

The board approved a plan devised by a Milltown, Middlesex County-based demographer, Ross Haber, that will transition students back to their local schools. The plan, Haber said, will allow students to be closer to home, allow kindergarten and first grade teachers to work together and require fewer school bus runs per day.

"Any plan that we make now which involves full day kindergarten, will last," said Haber, whose attendance projections determined that with a recent drop in student population, many unused classrooms in elementary schools could be used for the full-day program.

Haber's projections took into account potential shifts in population due to Superstorm Sandy, as well as potential increases in student population due to the full-day offerring, since many parents previously chose to send their children to private and parochial schools.

"A full day problem will, likely, bring a lot of these people back into the district," said Haber. "We did take that into account."

At most, Haber said, the district's student population could increase by about 630 students, though it will likely be less.

Board members agreed: it's time for a full-day program.

"Only 21 percent of school districts in New Jersey do not have full day kindergarten," said board member Larry Reid, who has pushed for full-day kindergarten since he was elected to the board.

"We've been looking at this for many months," said Reid. "When you have declining enrollment, you have empty classrooms. If we have empty classrooms, and we can fill them up with full-day kindergarten, that's a benefit for the students."

As for the Primary Learning Center building, there are many options on the table, said Board President Sharon Cantillo.

Two of those options include a fee-based preschool program to generate revenue for the district, or an academy school which would create a dedicated program for students interested in high-demand fields such as math, science or engineering.

In the mean time, the present special education students who attend classes at the PLC will remain there.

"We have many different uses for that building, all good for the students of this district," said Cantillo.

Superintendent Dr. Walter Uszenski is currently developing those options into potential plans, Cantillo said.

Kindergartners will ride to school each day on the bus with other elementary students, and Uszenski said the district will explore a "big brother and big sister" program so older students can look out for the younger ones. It's been a success in other districts, he said.

Plus, parents can expect their kindergartners to have a full day of learning with no nap time.

"Teachers can teach from bell to bell," he said.

Uszenski also said since future kindergarten students will have a leg up over previous classes, the first grade curriculum may be augmented to reflect their greater experience.

There was no cost estimate given for the program, since state aid figures for the coming school year have not yet been announced. But new teachers will be hired. Still, the cost of the plan could be offset by transportation savings as well as revenue generation from the PLC, officials said.

Kindergarten registration for the 2013-14 school year begins next week.

B F February 23, 2013 at 04:57 AM
Bussing is a privilege that many other school districts don't have. It's not mandatory. I had no intentions of putting my daughter on a bus with all kindergarten children. SInce they will be back in neighboring towns I think it would be an even easier choice to drop off and pick up. Plus, I think there is a better line of communication when families see the teacher every day, if they can.
Always from Brick February 23, 2013 at 12:41 PM
I think its great that they will be going full time. If anyone remembers years ago when the kindergarden was half day and in their home schools they came in with all the other children on the same bus, then at noon they were taken home and the pm picked up then the pm went home with all the other children on the bus at the end of the day. Most of the state kindergardeners are going full time, I think only about 20% are half day now.
KMEW February 23, 2013 at 12:48 PM
:) thanks for being on my side WM. Full day will work for some because of 2 working parents. I am a stay at home mom & fully enjoy having my children home. I am sure my son will be just fine as far as being ready academically. I will not hold him back. All I am worried about is the transition. I am feeling going right into such a long day will be hard. He will only have 1 yr of preschool/7.5 hours a week before going to full day. The bus comes at 8:30 (thank god at that point he will be with his sister on the bus) & they get home at 3:50. That is a very long day for a 5yr old esp one that has not been in any day cares or camps all day previously. I know of many kindergartners who have gone a 1/2 day & find it hard transitioning to full day 1st grade. It's hard on them. I am not happy about this & I too cannot afford a private school.
KMEW February 23, 2013 at 12:50 PM
Ours is 8:30 pick up & 3:50 drop off. Too long of a day for 5yr olds I feel.
Lifelongbrickresident February 23, 2013 at 12:51 PM
Im with you KC. My kids did half days at PLC--they are now in high school. They both have AP classes and I dont think the half day versus full day of kindergarten was a detriment to their education. Its not all about education. They are five years old. Not all kids are outgoing and being put in an elementary school with five groups of older children can be overwhelming for some kids--not all but some. I feel the busses will be the most problematic. They are already overcrowded. And exposing your children to the foul language on the busses with the older kids (and yes I do mean elementary school children) is not something I'd be quick to sign up for. My friend is a long time kindergarten teacher in another local district and tells me full time kindergarten for most of the children is just too long--they get too tired, have to concentrate for too many hours and they stop paying attention anyway after awhile. I hope you all enjoy the sacrifices your children will endure for the sake of free full time day care. That is part of what's wrong with this country. Parents don't want to parent anymore. It's the me generation..
Common sense February 23, 2013 at 01:56 PM
Ok, so now I speak as one who not only taught kindergarten for many years but first grade for many years as well. I do stay home to raise my children and trust me I understand the sacrifices it takes to do so... Fortunate and Thankful is an understatement!  My disappointment in this new way of the world is simply the fact that a 5 year old can handle what a 5 year old can handle!  For SOME, the transition to a Full Time job will be ok!  BUT, for MOST it is just going to be an exhausting and hard road ahead!  In my past experience, kindergarten students have a tough enough time adjusting to simple routine.  It is usually about January/February that these little guys come into their own!  My opinion, they are still babies... nothing to do with their intelligence level...it is the lack of maturity of the average 5 year old.  As a first grade teacher, most of the issues again come after lunch when they literally shut down.  Why??...because their little brains are on overload.  Let's remember some just turned 6 and some haven't even turned 6 yet.  Again a lot of crying because reality has set in...the day is just long.  Somewhere around January this starts to subside.  Everyone has a right to an opinion.  I'm just stating facts.  Like I stated in a previous post I will be hoping to find a half day program.  I am not going to frustrate my children when it is completely unnecessary. I am confident that adding more hours to a day will not define my child's future!!!
KMEW February 23, 2013 at 02:14 PM
Well said. Thank you
Thomas Anthony February 23, 2013 at 05:09 PM
Interesting in theory. Without facts or figures this may prove to be a worthy effort with adverse impact on our community. How much are the associated funding cost for this program and can the child at that age favorably transition into a full-day?
JD February 23, 2013 at 08:12 PM
You fail to acknowledge that many kids are in pre-school/daycare.... whatever you want to call it because both parents work. Most kids who start Kindergarten have some sort of pre-school... whether 5 days a week at 8hr/day or 3 days a week at half-days since they were 2 years old!! So, it's not a big deal... This is a very good move.... you are in the minority wanting 1/2 day and I highly doubt you are or have been a teacher.
JD February 23, 2013 at 08:15 PM
Full day kindergarden has naptime... that is how they transition.
Common sense February 23, 2013 at 08:37 PM
JD I did not fail to acknowledge that many kids are in daycare/ preschool. If fact, I am now on round 2 of sending my children to preschool even being a stay at home mom and not carrying a full time " paid" job! They started at 2 days a week for 2 1/2 hours and when they turned 4, 3 days for 2 1/2 hours. I am very well aware that I am in the minority! I do not appreciate your arrogance in assuming I have not taught both kindergarten and first grade for 9 plus years before having a family of my own! I am happy for you if you are for the full day program and wish success to the entire idea! From my past experiences AND YES I DO HAVE EXPERIENCE the majority of children will have a difficult time transitioning! And PS if you fully read the article instead of bashing other there WILL NOT be nap time!
Boose February 23, 2013 at 09:02 PM
My daughter was bored with the half day kindergarten. 8:30-10:50 was a joke of a day. Most preschool days are longer than that. Granted for children who are at home with a non working parent or guardian, full day will be a bit of a shock though. I think this was a good call, however I wish the board planned out the details prior to the vote. Busses, classroom space etc is yet to be determined I hear...
Kim February 23, 2013 at 09:23 PM
My older daughter went to private kindergarten, which was full day. She was young for the grade and I was worried about how she would deal with a full day class. It was fine. None of the kids were suffering for being there for a full day. I think as long as the parents do their part at home as far as getting the child to bed at an early time and give them a good breakfast, they are fine to have a full day of learning.
JD February 23, 2013 at 09:23 PM
The kids won't have any issue with full day... in fact, they will love it. Only Helicopter parents such as yourself and in the minority want 1/2 day... dumb, dumb, dumb.... glad you are not teaching anymore... if you ever were!!!
Motherof2 February 23, 2013 at 09:37 PM
The PLC is a great school! My son attended the PLC the last year they offered the specials (art, gym, library, music, and science). My daughter attends the PLC now. I have no complaints, it is a wonderful place. I will be sad to see it come to an end.
Watchman February 23, 2013 at 09:55 PM
Alison, learn to read. My comment about the PLC was not sure.The Laurelton school has been empty for how long? Birth rates are at their lowest rates in a 100 years nation wide.How do predict static enrollment with that.We paid $20,000 for what you saw last night.You think it was worth it?P.S. children have to be born to attend school
Jerseyclone February 24, 2013 at 12:11 PM
Just what I need a tax increase on top of Acrapolis will throw at us. It is time to stop and start over.
Credence is February 24, 2013 at 07:34 PM
They need to stop running for political office and start doing that what it is educationally correct for students.
KMC February 24, 2013 at 09:18 PM
I agree with you Jerseyclone. I wish I knew what this was going to cost. I feel with all that happened to so many during Hurricane Sandy, that should be our top priority right now. This full day Kindergarten could have waited until next year. I think it's great for the kids to go full day, but without knowing the costs I have to be very skeptical. And very disappointed that no one involved in kindergarten other than the Board Members or Board Office knew this was happening. The teachers and PLC admin. were kept in the dark.
clamdigger February 24, 2013 at 11:27 PM
it's going to cost at least $980k just for the teachers. read here; http://brick.patch.com/articles/results-of-full-day-kindergarten-study-to-be-presented-at-brick-boe-meeting
Bobby Condurso February 24, 2013 at 11:57 PM
Please...no school uniforms...children have to be allowed toshow some individuality and creativity. If I wanted my kids to wear a school uniform I would send them to parochial school. As far as full day K....Hip Hip Hooray!!!
jessica February 25, 2013 at 03:14 AM
KMS I am also a stay at home mother, I agree wit you. I think full time is alot to put on a 5 year old. My older children loved the PLC but they were so tired when the came home, they usually layed down after school because they needed to relax. I think most parents are happy about this because they will no longer need to pay for after care, or less after care. I am not saying there is anything wrong with that, I would hate to have to pay those high costs also, but I do not think 8-3 5 days a week at 5 years old is thr right answer either.
Bricky February 25, 2013 at 03:28 PM
Bobby..Have you seen the way kids dress these days? These kids girls can show their individuality (and everything else) on the weekend.
J February 25, 2013 at 05:02 PM
It's a good thing! The kids will adjust. 2 1/2 hours the kids currently go isn't nearly enough time. Between getting the kids off the bus. Snack time, play time and getting the kids bundled back up on the buses ect... How much time is left in the day for instruction?
Concerned February 25, 2013 at 09:55 PM
This is exactly what I am worried about. While full day will be beneficial academically , has it been completely thought out? Taxes and is there enough room in the elementary schools?
Watchman February 25, 2013 at 10:43 PM
Alison. you seem to have a lot to say , but not very consistent.First you say not one person spoke out against full day k.,then it changed to not one parent.Then you think Mr Finelli should move out of Brick because he asked questions and attends T.C.meetings.Im sure I heard him say he was not against what they did,but how they did it.Maybe people don't come to the meetings because of people like you or because whatever they say won't matter.OH, and I think he is the person who tells the school board what goes on at town council meeting like the Pilot program at the Foodtown site that could screw the the school district out of $500,000 a year for the next 30 years. You are probably right he didn't vote for some of them,since he ran against in the last election.
Watchman February 25, 2013 at 11:49 PM
To concerned parent/educator.I saw your post but could not find it here..My response.We don't vote on the school budget,we vote on the tax levy.The township budget has nothing to do with the school budget We don't get to vote on what the township spends unless it's a binding referendum on the ballot This years estimated school budget is $144,000,000 and estimated tax levy $97,000,000,big difference.If it's under the 2% cap we don't get to vote on the school tax levy. And it's spelled separate.
Lorraine February 26, 2013 at 11:16 PM
I agree with you 100%!
Alison March 01, 2013 at 09:29 PM
Seriously?! Lol Ok true, in one post I said "person" and one I said "parent". My bad. I thought parents were people......didn't realize the "Watchman" watches grammar so closely, please excuse me. What I said, Mr Finelli, was that in my opinion (which I'm allowed to have) you were fresh (disrespectful) to the board. If you were unhappy you should move out of Brick. Curious what the statement "maybe people don't come to the meetings because of people like you...." means? How could I deter people from coming? I was there to learn about my town. I don't even USE the brick public schools. We send our children to private school. Why would you think you were the first to tell the board about the pilot program? And thanks for the heads up...... I will make sure to look out for your name on the next ballot. Kinda explains a lot. Have a great day, mr Finelli.
Anthony March 04, 2013 at 02:23 PM
Agree 100%

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