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District Unveils Full-Time Kindergarten Pilot Program

The selection process for the program will be through an anonymous lottery beginning on Wednesday, Aug. 1

The school district administration unveiled a full-time kindergarten pilot program Monday night that will kickoff this September.

“We are very excited to be presenting this program. The administration has been discussing this implementation since January 2012,” Assistant Superintendent Dr. Vanessa Clark said.

Full-time kindergarten has been a topic of discussion in Lacey for more than nine years, with limited resources being the main hindrance. 

Key aspects for consideration of the pilot program were enrollment figures, facilities and staffing needs, Clark said.

Currently, 23 school districts in Ocean County have a full-day kindergarten program and six, including Lacey Township, do not. Two of those six offer paid enrichment for students to stay a whole day, said Michelle Amos, District Supervisor for Language Arts.

“In our discussions we thought that this was really essential that we take baby steps toward a solution to get our students to the point where they have the same educational opportunities as students in surrounding districts,” she said.

With a full-time program, 30 percent more time will be spent on reading and literacy instruction while 46 percent more time will be dedicated to mathematics, she said. Kindergarten through second grade are foundational years for literacy skills and the district had a two-year adoption of enVisionMATH for kindergarten through sixth grade.

“The additional time would really benefit our students,” Amos said. “The students would really benefit from being able to implement some of the additional pieces, the technology pieces, small group instruction.”

Kindergarten can technically be taught during a half-day but the subjects should be taught in a 60-minute block, Amos said.

As per the New Jersey Department of Education’s Best Practices in Kindergarten Implementation, 140 minutes should be dedicated to literacy and math daily; 90 minutes to interdisciplinary content areas/technology instruction; 40 to specials such as physical education, art, and music; 60 minutes to social skills development during lunch and recess and 60 minutes for classroom activities/transitions. Those time blocks are spread out throughout the day, Amos said.

The program would provide greater opportunities for more independent learning, classroom involvement and work with peers. It would also allow for a reduction in remediation and a better transition to first grade, she said.

The program will be put into place by utilizing the facilities and staffing the district already has, said William Zylinski, District Supervisor of Humanities.

This September there will be one full-day kindergarten class per elementary school with a class size of 24, he said.

School Board President Jack Martenak explained that previously there were six sections of half-day kindergarten in each elementary school. Now, there will be four sections of half day and one full day kindergarten class in each elementary school.

There will be a selection process through an anonymous lottery, Zylinski said.

On Wednesday, Aug. 1, all fully registered kindergarten students will be entered in a computer-generated lottery. The lottery will be done on Thursday, Aug. 2 and parents will be notified that their child is eligible for full-day kindergarten in Lacey on Monday, Aug. 6.

Parents with eligible children must notify the school district of participation in the program by Thursday, Aug. 9.

“Obviously we understand and recognize how important a full-day kindergarten program is to our littlest learners,” Superintendent Dr. Sandra Brower said. “We’re very, very excited. We wish and hope and anticipate that this could start the seeds to how we can offer a full-time kindergarten here in Lacey.”

The district tried to implement a program in 2005 through a referendum but it did not pass, Martenak said. The district needed additional facilities back then but with the decline in housing construction in Lacey, there has been a decrease in enrollment figures.

In the past, the state made a mandate requiring all schools to provide a full-time kindergarten but then the economy declined and the funds was not available, Board Member Maureen Tirella said, commending the administration for the pilot program.

The long-term goal is to make full-time kindergarten available to every student at minimal costs, he said. The 2012-13 program will be of no cost to the district since it is utilizing the district's facilities and current staff.

“During the course of this pilot, we’re going to learn a lot of things,” he said. “Not just about space but also about bussing and administration and lunch room and all those other things that are going to go into housing a full-time kindergarten.”

Resident Regina Discenza questioned the 2012 enrollment for kindergarten, which is 279. Discenza said the decrease in enrollment is “very good.” This year, 375 kindergarteners graduated. But the enrollment figure is generally lower because it doesn’t include private kindergartens, Zylinski pointed out.

“With the resources we have, we’re doing the right thing,” Vice President Eric Schubiger said, adding that he has some concerns. “I don’t think that any of our children in our district should be subject to a lottery. It is what it is.”

Despite those concerns, Schubiger recognizes the importance of a full-time kindergarten and is in full support of the program, he said.

“This is a good step towards our eventual goal. When we get there and how we get there is still a work in progress,” Martenak said. “At least it’s a start.”

“This is great,” one resident said during “It’s about time.”

Forked River Mom July 18, 2012 at 04:56 PM
Ok, so I admit what I said was a little extreme, but isn't that what these message boards are for...to voice our opinions. The most important concern here is for my child. She gets picked and puts her academically ahead of others that weren't or vice versa. It's just not fair. You do it for one, you do it for all. Don't roll out the program until your 100% ready to offer it to everyone!
Favorite Teacher July 18, 2012 at 05:18 PM
Really, because enrollment is down, so follow the money. 50k in raises for administrators, that could pay a new teacher, and another 100k in new positions. Yes, now parents of 5 year olds can fight over the scraps left over...Perhaps we should choose the neediest of kids, title i families, english language learners, and special needs to get the full day...there's more than enough kids right there.
Elaine Piniat (Editor) July 19, 2012 at 12:39 AM
Hi everyone, I just spoke to Dr. Brower. It turns out the lottery will actually be done during a public meeting. It won't be at a Board of Education meeting but a meeting that parents of incoming kindergarteners will be invited to. More information to follow.
JM July 19, 2012 at 01:58 AM
I jJust don't think the educational advantage the few full timers will have over the half day students will be fair come 1st grade. How will grade one curriculmn make adaptations for the huge learning gap that will exist within the students due to the benefits described in this article? The extra reading, writing, math etc... I understand the problem at hand but I agree that this is a transition that should be made when all the children can receive the benefits!!!
Shannon July 19, 2012 at 02:30 AM
I love this idea, however, won't this cause about 25% of the kindergarten class to be academically ahead of the rest of their peers come first grade?
Lonna thurman July 19, 2012 at 12:21 PM
I agree with jm And shannon... My son will be going into kindergarten this year and I'm a sahm, but I don't want my son to be "undereducated" while some students get extra time and more learning! Yes a lottery is the fair way to do it, but it does not make it fair! When they go to 1st grade some students will be ahead while others are behind? So either way one of the classes is going to suffer. Either the half day kids are going to be stressed to keep up or the full day kids are going to be bored and act up!
JD July 19, 2012 at 01:39 PM
Favorite Teacher-I honestly doubt that enrollment for K the upcoming school year is that far down to allow for the necessary classroom space at all 3 Elementary School Buildings to "House" Full K Programs for all students. If you look at the student numbers it would appear to me that the room or space simply does not exist. As for following the money, if I am following your approach correctly you are stating that $50,000 in Administrator Raises would be enough to create Full-Day K for all students in the 3 School Buildings. I agree that $50,000 might be close to being enough to employ 1 Full-Time K Teacher, however, if the entire District as to go to Full Day K, more than 1 additional teacher would be needed. I would assume that at least 3 to 4 new K-Teachers would need to be hired. If you add up those salaries, plus the benefits you will see the numbers are quite a bit higher.
JD July 19, 2012 at 01:39 PM
Elaine-Thanks for sharing all of the approach. It sounds fair to me.
HD July 19, 2012 at 01:48 PM
I love the idea of full day kindergarten, but I think it has to be all or nothing. It should not be implemented until all kindergarteners can recieve the same benefits. This is very unfair to our children. Take another year to get things in place, and then offer it to everyone. There is no need to see if it works, we know it does. almost every other district around us is doing it.
Lonna thurman July 19, 2012 at 02:45 PM
This is how I feel... I feel like they are "experimenting" on MY SON!!! He will be starting kindergarten this fall and I do not feel it is fair to either of the classes!! Really pi$$es me off!!!!
Favorite Teacher July 19, 2012 at 02:50 PM
enrollment is down. salaries are up. It's adults first, students second. if this board wanted to educate all kindergarten students - they would. period. all Kindergarten students deserve the same opportunity, the $$$ goes to the adults. over 150K JD, Kids 2nd...Adults 1st.
tammy jackson July 19, 2012 at 03:47 PM
I also feel it should be all the children or keep it at half day. Even with the lottery I don't feel it is fair.
My Opinion Matters July 19, 2012 at 06:36 PM
This is all boiling down to how much they didn't think this through. Try calling the superintendents office...they're clueless and can not address any concerns. All the money in raises and newly created positions could have EASILY paid for this program to be offered to all of the children. Why wasn't this announced at the kindergarten orientation? Because they didn't know what the heck they were doing. Our children should not be the guinea pigs here. Like someone above mentioned. We know the plan works, every other district has it in place already. This is ridiculous to throw out there a little over a month before school starts. C'mon Lacey Township Board of Education...wake up!!!
John July 19, 2012 at 11:17 PM
I have agreed with full day for decades! We are so behind other Counties in this state! Sorry, I think this is dumb this some get it some don't!! Either all the kids get full day care or it stays the same! Politicals is a full in Lacey!! As one person put it above we are going to have a huge education gap between those who's had the full day education from those who had a part time education. Maybe the bosses at the top should look at themselves adn say "HEY OUR HUGE RAISES WOULD PAY FOR FULL DAY FOR ALL THE CHILDREN MAYBE WE SHOULD NOT TAKE THEM!" Foolish me that these self center admin would do something like that..., they do not need 20+ thousand dollar raises!! It is time for this town to vote out the cronies that have been sitting on this board, cronies that are connected to Gilmore, cronies that have family members working somewhere in this township, it time to vote out these cronies and have them tell the admin "you either take a cut in pay or your out!" Time to rid the schools of dozens of supervisors who walk around and talk all day to whomever. The children need to be put first and these hacks who are all taken huge raises need to go and we need a board that's 'got a set,' and will stand up to the party heads and the admins!
JD July 20, 2012 at 03:56 PM
My Opinion Matters-Much like your Patch Name/Handle, all I can say is that most certainly all opinions matter. You stated that when calling the Supt's Office they are clueless in regards to answering your concerns about this topic. Can you please share with us a few examples of the concerns that they seem to be clueless about? I only request this because it might assist some of us in getting a better understanding of the issue as a whole. Also, did you specificially request to meet with Dr. Brower or Dr. Clark about your concerns? Also, since I have stated this previously in this thread, I am not sure the Pilot K Program instead of Full Implementation of a Full-Day K Program is only based on the lack of finances, I continue to believe that room space must also seem to need be considered.
JD July 20, 2012 at 04:36 PM
Due the length of this response, I will need to break it into a few parts. I would like to begin this post by once again stating that I am in full support of a Full-Day Kindergarten Program for “ALL” of the Students of the Lacey Township School District. It is long overdue, and is something that should have been implemented years ago. When looking at the vast array of School Districts in Ocean and Monmouth Counties you will quickly discover that the vast majority of them have Full-Day Kindergarten Programs. Thus, in the past all of the typical Kindergarten Students of Lacey Township have been well indeed shorted on time during their Kindergarten Experience. It is a true shame that this has taken place for as many years as it has. Thus, in my humble opinion, it is vitally important that “ALL” of the Future Kindergarten Students that attend the Lacey Public School System are enrolled in a Full-Day Kindergarten Program as soon as possible. The longer the delay, the longer that these children will be shorted on the “Gift Of Time”.
JD July 20, 2012 at 04:36 PM
With that stated let me see if I can make a key point or two here. I will try to lay out my thoughts as simply and clearly as possible. From what I have read, it appears that approximately a total of 375 Kindergarten Students attended classes during the 2011-2012 School Year in the 3 Lacey Township Elementary Schools. Give or take a few students that would mean that roughly 125 students attended Kindergarten in each of the 3 Schools. As such, it would estimate that approximately 6 sections of ½ Day Kindergarten existed at each of the 3 Schools. Thus, creating roughly 21 students in each of the classes. I believe that the Developmental Kindergarten Classes in each building may have actually had slightly less students that 21, thus meaning that the typical K-Classes had slightly more than 21 students. Therefore, it would appear that approximately 3 Kindergarten Classrooms were required in each of the 3 School Buildings. As such, 3 a.m. K-Classes, and 3 p.m. K-Classes, or a total of 9 Kindergarten Classroom Spaces were needed in the District as a whole.
JD July 20, 2012 at 04:37 PM
According to the article that appears above, Mrs. Dicenza stated that at the moment 279 Kindergarten Students are already enrolled for Kindergarten for the 2012-2013 School Year. This would appear to be a drop of roughly 95 students from last years K-Class. With that stated, I would think that the number of 279 Enrolled as of late June or early July 2012, would tend to grow larger between now and the first day of school in September of 2012. Simply put, I would have to think that some parents may have been delinquent in enrolling students as of right now, and will do so sometime between now and when the first day of school takes place in September. This might involve as many as 10 to 15% of those K-Students that will eventually be enrolled for the first day of school in September. Thus, the actual number could be in the area of 20 to 35 additional students. If that were to take place, it would most likely mean that the true K-Enrollment would be around 300 to 320 students or so.
JD July 20, 2012 at 04:38 PM
Based on those statistics, I will make use of a Kindergarten Total Enrollment of 300 to 310 Students for 2012-2013. As such, if the class size were to be kept around 20 to 21, then 15 classrooms would be necessary or 5 classrooms per school building, for a Full-Day Kindergarten Program to be implemented for this School Year. Thus, creating a need for an additional 2 classrooms in each building for Kindergarten. Based on the fact, that it appears that little available new or additional classroom space seems to exist at the Forked River School, Lanoka Harbor School, and Cedar Creek School, this would seem to me to be something that was most likely considered by Dr. Brower, Dr. Clark, and the Lacey Township BOE. Thus, I have a hunch however cannot be a 100% certain due to the lack of details that I have before me that the decision to go with a Full-Day K Pilot Program was most likely made considering more than the financial impact. In summary, it seems that it is also decision made on available room space in the 3 Elementary School Buildings. As always, I am looking forward to realistic feedback.
Lonna thurman July 20, 2012 at 04:58 PM
I totally understand what you are saying... I get that they just don't have the room for the kids. But like another poster had said, we all know the full day kindergarten is the way to go, so why not create the extra room first before splitting up the kids time in the classroom? I probably wouldn't care about this at all, but my first born child is part of this group and it concerns me! So what about next year for the future K class? Will they make the room or drop it back down to only half day classes? Because from what I read and understood that this year is not costing them any money, but I could be wrong. There has to be a way for all the kids to get to get the same amount of classroom time... weather they hold off on the full day K or find away to alternate the classes so they all get a turn (yes, I know, that would probably be a hassle for everyone, but it is just a thought). I personally feel that either way MY child may suffer because if he gets full day, he may become bored with the 1st grade class that is at the teaching level for the majority of the students who only had half day (I think this is more likely to happen than my other reason) OR he will be behind because the teachers are teaching at the level for the children who attended the full day program. I want what is best for MY CHILD and getting the same time as the other kids weather it be all half or full. That is how I feel and I know there is probably nothing to stop it.
beachgirl July 20, 2012 at 09:44 PM
So Lonna, I am assuming that if it's so unfair and your child happens to get picked, you will be giving up your spot just on your principles, right? Doubt it!
Lonna thurman July 20, 2012 at 10:18 PM
As a matter of fact me and my husband have talked about it and we may just do that if he were to get picked, but if you read my post below I feel that BOTH classes will suffer in some way or another. So really does it matter which one he goes in? We won't know until he goes into 1st grade what the "damage" is.
Eye on Lacey July 20, 2012 at 10:18 PM
Lacey needs to get with it; many districts already have full time kindergarten as well as full time Pre-K!
JD July 21, 2012 at 11:44 AM
Lonna T-Thanks for your very well thought-out response to my post from yesterday. While, I may not totally agree with all of the contents of your post, I can certainly understand where you are coming from. Of course, you have even a deeper interest in this topic since your first born child will be starting Kindergarten in September. I admire the way that you are responding in defense of your child. It is positive to read a post from and a true advocate of a child. I believe that a few additional points need also to be thought about and/or discussed in regards to this topic/issue. Like many "Test" or "Pilot Programs" this Full-Day K Pilot Program in Lacey can serve many purposes. Just a few that might be considered: 1-First off all, as in the case of most “Test” or “Pilot Programs” the results of the “Pilot Group” can be measured against the “Non-Pilot Group”. This is commonly used in the Business and Medical World. In the Business World this approach is often used to see if the “Product” or “Change” is worth the amount of money (or financial impact) that it may cost to implement it. Thus, the “Pilot” would be taking a look as to whether a significantly longer K-Day in Lacey actually is worth the dollars that will need to be invested to make this take place on a full-basis? Prior to even implementing the “Pilot”, I will assume that the results of this will be rather positive, however at times unusual results may eventually show up.
JD July 21, 2012 at 11:46 AM
Continued from above: 2-The K-Teachers (3 in total, 1 from each of the 3 Lacey Elementary Schools) will need to be trained and/or receive Professional Development to make the move from a ½ Day K Program to a Full-Day K Program. Keep in mind that these are most likely K-Teachers that have always instructed a ½ Day K-Program. They will be spending a longer quantity of time on the instruction of many vitally important subjects. Therefore, it will be a rather large adjustment for them. I would assume that this Professional Development or Training is now on-going in regards to these 3 K Teachers. 3-Like many “Test” or “Pilot Programs”, I am fairly certain a few “Kinks” or “Bumps in the Road” will need to be worked out during Year 1. Once, these 3 Teachers have worked through a Full-Time K Program for the entire 2012-2013 School Year, and if the Full-Day K Program is proven to be successful and fully implemented the following School Year (2013-2014), then these “Pilot Teachers” will be able to serve as Grade Level Leaders during the Summer of 2013 when the K-Teachers that were not part of the “Pilot” are most likely trained, and also during he 2013-2014 to make sure these “Kinks” or “Bumps in the Road” are avoided during the first year of full implementation of Full-Day Kindergarten in Lacey.
JD July 21, 2012 at 11:49 AM
Continued from above: The other major point to consider, is that if the “True Kindergarten Enrollment” were to continue to drop fairly significantly, and actually end up slightly lower than 300 students (for the sake of this post lets use a number of 285 to 295) for the 2013-2014 School Year, then quite possibly by allowing 23 to 24 students in each of the 12 K-Classes (4 per School Building) then the required Classroom Space would be available without any major modifications to any of the 3 Elementary Schools in Lacey Township. Thus meaning, that the eventual full implementation of a Full-Day K-Program for “All” of Students in all 3 of the Elementary Schools in our School District could possibly be accomplished with very little if any impact on the taxpayers. And of course, with all of the focus on property taxes in the State of New Jersey, this would end up being a very positive thing.
Jen Royal July 22, 2012 at 01:15 PM
I find it horrible that they will be spending 30 percent more time on reading and 40 percent more time on math. That is what is wrong with the education system in America. There are no other subjects, just reading and math. No wonder kids are completely bored with school by the time they are in second grade! There isn't anything in school to pique their interest and get them excited about learning. Most 5-year-olds are not ready for a full day program anyway. It's sickening how this is becoming the trend everywhere because parents don't want to pay for daycare.
JD July 22, 2012 at 02:28 PM
Jen R-While, I certainly think that everyone is entitled to an opinion, I have to say that I have several strong disagreements with your thoughts that appear above. As such, a few quick things: 1-First off all, in my view the instruction of Reading and Writing in the Primary Grade Levels (Grades K, 1, and 2) is vitally important. Without the ability to read fluently, most of the other subjects cannot be fully understood. Without the ability to write well, students cannot clearly express in writing what they wish to. Thus, in my humble opinion students in Grades K, 1, and 2 need to read and write, and then read and write even more. 2-I have no idea what sources you are suggesting for the concept that 5 and 6 Year Olds are not ready for a Full-Day of School. Most of the recent studies by the Educational Guru’s/Experts that I have viewed about how 5 and 6 years olds process concepts and learn clearly show that they are ready for a Full-Day Kindergarten Program. Of course, a modified approach needs to be used with 5 and 6 Year Olds that is a bit different than students that might be 7, 8, or older. If you look at other nations that have superb Educational Systems, you will quickly see that they spend more time in school and begin to do so at a quite young age. The concept of a 6 to 7 Hour Kindergarten Program has been around in this nation and others for many years.
JD July 22, 2012 at 02:29 PM
Contined from above due to length: 3-I do agree with you that the Schools of the Future will have to make the entire learning process more enjoyable and exciting. I am honestly hoping that this will be the case with the Full-Day K Pilot Program starting in the Lacey Township School District in September of 2012. In my view, one of the largest pitfalls of the Educational System in the United State is that for the past several years, the curriculum and instruction model (topics covered and approach to instruct them) seems to be a mile wide and a few inches deep. Instead, much like those Nations that have superb Educational Systems, we need to move to a curriculum and instructional model that is a mile deep and a few inches wide. After reading the statements made by Dr. Brower and Dr. Clark, I believe the mile deep and a few inches wide approach is on the horizon here in the Lacey Township School District. Perhaps we now need to give them a bit of time to make those modifications.
CaptMorgan July 28, 2012 at 12:05 AM
If anyone has been in the Elem schools you can see their is no space in these buildings to go all in at the start. It would be great to put additions on these buidings, but I know that would hit us on the tax end. I dont think the PTO can come up with that much. They would also need to hire a teacher and an aid for each school just to make the numbers work out. I am interested in seeing how this works out. It is great that they are getting the ball rolling here though. I have a child going into K this year. We have our lotto number :) My other children have went through the half system and have turned out fine (so far). Their is only so much a 5 year old can take in. I am happy either way. I am one of the few. The one thing that did piss me off about this whole issue is I heard afew people saying that the lottery will be fixed. Really? Do you realize what a risk that would be on their part just get a kid or two makes it into it? Why in the world would they put themselves in that postion for someone? THINK PLEASE!

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