$3M in State Aid for Washingtonville Full-Day Kindergarten Expected
By Eugenia Moskowitz
Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie and Assemblyman James Skoufis visited two of Taft Elementary School’s kindergarten classrooms on Oct. 19 to show their support to help fund the transition to full-day kindergarten for the Washingtonville Central School District, one of only six remaining school districts in the state that still operate on a half-day kindergarten program.
Last summer, Skoufis introduced a bill, which the Assembly unanimously approved, to provide a five-year plan of aid totaling $3 million ($1 million the first year, decreasing by increments of $200k for the following four years). Governor Andrew Cuomo and the Senate, where the bill was carried by Senator Bill Larkin, indicated they would back the bill. Heastie said the support is there, only that some details still need to be worked out.
Taft Principal Barbara Quinn expressed to Heastie the importance of full-day kindergarten if students are expected to master the current high academic standards of the primary years. While the two-and-a-half hour morning and afternoon kindergarten sessions do reach all academic benchmarks due to a focused curriculum and seasoned teachers, the ideal obviously is to have all students in a full-day program.
“People looking to move from the city ask me about the Washingtonville schools,” Washingtonville Mayor and high school teacher Joe Bucco said, “and I tell them they’re excellent, but when I say we have half-day kindergarten, that’s a deal breaker, they look to other towns with full-day programs.”
“For working families,” Washingtonville Central School District Superintendent Roy Reese said, “the problem of where to put their children for the rest of the day is huge, both financially and emotionally.” Currently, Washingtonville residents rely on the district to bus students from Taft to the three local private day-care centers English Rose, Little Harvard, and Little Lambs, which round out the full academic curriculum for the second half of the school day.
Also present on the classroom tour were Director of Business Paul Nienstadt, President of the Board of Education Bill Santos (as well as other members of the board), and Washingtonville Police Department Chief Brian Zaccaro.
After the tour of Mrs. Walsh and Mrs. Stadler’s morning kindergarten classrooms, Heastie and Skoufis continued on to view the expansion project at Round Hill Elementary School, where the district-wide full-day kindergarten program is slated to begin in September 2019, creating ideal class sizes as well as five new teaching positions. Round Hill will also house both the special education space the district currently rents out on Sarah Wells Trail, as well as its ESL classrooms.
CAPTION: Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie (right) and Assemblyman James Skoufis (center) visited Mrs. Walsh’s morning kindergarten class at Washingtonville’s Taft Elementary School along with (left) Taft Principal Barbara Quinn. The district is expected to be granted a total of $3 million in state aid over five years as it transitions to full-day kindergarten in 2019. (Photo by Eugenia Moskowitz)