By John Jeffries
On Tues., Sept. 27, the residents of Mt. Olive will be asked to go the polls and vote on two propositions related to full day kindergarten. The propositions are divided into two propositions on the ballot.
Proposition one authorizes the district to build a 13 classroom addition at Sandshore Elementary School in Budd Lake. Proposition two authorizes the school district to include in its annual budget the money, $808,000, to pay the extra teaching staff that will be needed. The question is a very important one. If passed, it will change kindergarten from half days to full days as well as increase the amount residents pay for property taxes going forward. The issue is full day kindergarten verses the current half day. If passed, the cost would be about $92.50 per household, per year, the first year. Based on the value of a home it could be more or less. After the first year, and going forward, it is certain that there will be salary increases as well as benefit increases and that number will rise with the years. The School district does offer K-Excel, a tuition-based, full-day kindergarten program in collaboration with Mt.Olive Child Care and learning center. Dr. Larrie Reynolds, Mt. Olive superintendent, states that children enrolled in K-Excel do “significantly better” academically than kids not included in K-Excel. K-Excel which has 120 students enrolled for the 2016-17 school year is offered at a cost of $300 a month. For more on that program visit https://www.mtolivechildcare.org/before-and-after-kindergarten.
Reynolds also said that the so-called fade away effect has been shown by the time kindergarten students reach third grade, their academic skills are about the same as those who did not have all-day kindergarten.
The question come September is do the residents of Mt Olive want the BOE to implement full day kindergarten at a cost of $6.65 million for construction of the 13-classroom addition paid over 15 years, plus another $808,000 annually to pay the extra teaching staff that will be needed.
This is a decision that will affect all residents for years to come. Whether for this or against this, residents need to go out and vote.