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Kindergarten Facts

posted Apr 19, 2014, 4:31 PM by Dianne Georgantas
Dear Longmeadow Community:

This past year, I worked with the Kindergarten Committee to study the benefits of a full day kindergarten program, and a recommendation was made to the School Committee that we provide the opportunity for all children to attend the full day program in Longmeadow.  The lottery system was abolished and the fee was reduced from over $4000 to $3000 per child.  The Committee worked all through the fall and into the winter before making this recommendation.  Time was needed for teachers' input, parent forums, research and communication.  A final report was written and presented to the School Committee in January of 2014.  Registration was completed by March 1, and it was at this time that we had evidence that we would increase the number of full day classrooms next year, FY 15.

Fund Code 701- the Transition to Full Day Kindergarten Grant- is designed by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) to promote voluntary expansion to full day kindergarten programs.  In November of 2012, the DESE released the funding opportunity for this competitive grant.  It was designed to increase the number of full day programs- not to supplant the current full day classrooms already in existence.  Since Longmeadow's full day kindergarten had no classrooms increases in the past years, we were not eligible for the grant.

In addition, the grant clearly states, "Competitive priority will be given to districts with the greatest need as defined by:
•       higher percentages of low-income students based on districts that serve
        free or reduced lunches to at least 35% of its students;
•       higher percentages of students who are English language learners;
        and lower Composite Performance Index (CPI) data for the 3rd grade
        MCAS assessments in English Language Arts and Mathematics."

Eight districts applied for the grant this past year.  Five applicants received funding in FY 14.  They were: Billerica Public Schools ($90,000), Hopkinton Public Schools ($20,000), Mansfield Public Schools ($20,000), Scituate Public Schools ($10,000), and Stoneham Public Schools ($20,259).  The total amount of money allocated and dispersed for the entire State was $150,529.  Three applicants received no funding; a total of $514,457 was requested by all of the applicants and only $150,529 was funded by the State.  None of the districts that received funding over the past two years compare to us by the DESE's qualifications, which they call "like districts".   We are compared with communities such as Wellesley and Wayland for achievement, socio-economics and ELL populations.  The data above shows that the likelihood of Longmeadow receiving a grant was highly unlikely. In addition, the deadline for the application was October 15, 2013, and the Committee, required by the DESE to even apply for the grant, did not finish our work until January of 2014.

In FY 13, again only five districts, again, distinctly different from Longmeadow's profile, received funding.   They were:  Bourne, Hudson, Mansfield, Mendon- Upton Regional and Scituate.  Ms. Jasmin's claims that our chances of receiving funding were "high" based on FY 12 grants is inaccurate and misrepresents the facts; if she looks at the actual grant recipients in FY 13 and FY 14, and the limited funds available, she will find that no "like districts" received funding because we do not fit the criteria; districts with lower socio-economic status receive priority in almost all DESE grants.

In addition, it would cost us over $407,000 more to offer free kindergarten.  Yes, we would receive approximately $81,640 from Chapter 70 funds based on the 130 students projected by Longmeadow's census, but that would still leave us a deficit of approximately $325,960.

There are other state and federal grants for which we are eligible, we do apply and we do receive funding.  Some of these include: Title I, IDEA, Race to the Top, Title IIA, Academic Support and Summer Academic Support.  Longmeadow receives approximately $850,000 annually in grants due to applications submitted by Longmeadow's school administration.  We do not shy away from applying for grants that will bring valued revenue to this Town as we understand the high tax rate that residents pay in order to support our school system.  We are most grateful.

As we move to full day kindergarten, we may become eligible for other grants.  Please be assured that we will continue to apply for all grants that we have a chance of receiving.  We are aware that every dollar counts, and we strive to take advantage of all opportunities to bring funding to Longmeadow when the criteria fits our profile.

Superintendent Marie Doyle