Devlin-Scherer: Now is the time to fight for pre-K

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To the Editor:

Initial decisions of the Taconic & Green Board in their first year budget included adding three administrative positions in food services, transportation and facilities. The intent was to free principals to focus on instructional leadership in their schools by lessening their responsibilities in non-instructional areas.

Why, when faced with opening a new program that will directly benefit student achievement throughout their school years, is it not treated in the same manner?

Why come to the Board for 20 hours of day care instead of the full day 40-hour five-day pre-K program the Manchester community strongly supported last year and has been operating for over a decade?

Instead, why not have a Request for Proposal for day care providers in the mountain towns to provide a high quality five-day pre-K program for 4-year-olds. Equalize up, not down.

Instructional time between licensed teachers and students is what effects student learning directly. So it is not surprising that students who participate in high quality five-day pre-K program need less special education and other special assistance in their future schooling. Several states have documented huge savings because of reductions in special education services and grade retention. The message is clear — invest early — in high quality five-day pre-K and schools save substantial amounts of money later.

I urge the Board and Superintendent to support a five-day, full day pre-K programs for all 4-year-olds, not only in Manchester but also for the mountain towns.

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The Superintendent has already sent out an RFP to local day care providers to provide afternoon care for the Manchester program. Other options are worthy of consideration.

In addition to maintaining the long established pre-K program in Manchester and Currier:

Fund the already state approved pre-K programs at The Little School and/or the West River Montessori School. Match the per pupil funding similar to that for the Manchester and Currier pre-K program. Use the anticipated surplus in the Taconic & Green budget to fund these programs in the coming year.

Take another step toward increased funding for pre-K program in the mountain towns from 2019-2020 levels by funding additional per pupil hours.

Urge legislators to act expeditiously on changing the funding formula for pre-K students from .46 to 1.0. Passage of this bill will reduce the tax rate for towns across the state and encourage development of pre-K programs state-wide.

Come to the Taconic & Green Board Meeting Tuesday, December 3 in Manchester Elementary School and December 17 (Currier Elementary School), both at 6:30, to speak for pre-K programs.

Roberta Devlin-Scherer

Sunderland


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