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Residents Share Thoughts on District’s Kindergarten Program

Some parents satisfied with East Meadow’s kindergarten program, while others continue to push for a full day option.

One topic has caused a among for many years – the issue of half day versus full day kindergarten programs in East Meadow.

The East Meadow School District currently runs a half-day program for its students, which is met by both satisfaction and disappointment from many parents.

Surrounding districts, including North Bellmore, Hicksville and Westbury, among others, currently run full day kindergarten programs. According to the New York State Department of Education, in the 2008-2009 school year, 92 percent of students enrolled in kindergarten throughout the state were attending full day programs.

A parent of a child in first grade in an East Meadow elementary school, who wished to remain anonymous, said she “kind of expected” to not have full day kindergarten because that is what she grew up with. While recognizing the fact that taxes are high and that having full day kindergarten would be beneficial, there are also many preschools and nursery schools available if parents want the full day option, she added. But, she warned, this perpetuates the cycle of dual working parents.

“I have quite a lot of friends who are teachers and they say that kids of that age aren’t quite ready for a full day,” she said, adding that half day kindergarten worked well for her child. She explained that “it comes down not to the academic factors, but the pure convenience of the parents.”

“There is only so much information that can prepare them for first grade,” she continued. “Most of the kids at that age aren’t prepared to sit down for that full of a day. I think that [my child] would have struggled with a full day of kindergarten. But it’s really child specific. I don’t hear any of the children struggling with the material. So the preparedness in kindergarten must be sufficient.”

East Meadow resident Steve, who requested to not have his last name printed, has three grown sons who attended . He believes that “taking into account the economic climate of the younger families trying to survive on the Island, that kindergarten should be full day.” He added that not “enough steps are being taken to make it desirable for young families to live and prosper on Long Island.”

“It seems a vicious cycle for parents to be hit with ever increasing school taxes and home prices and not have the opportunity to work full time in order to pay for them during their children's kindergarten year,” Steve said. “To make matters even worse, they would have to arrange to either pick them up from school themselves, or add more expenses by paying a sitter or an after school program to look after the children when kindergarten classes let out.”

Sabrina, of East Meadow, who also asked to not include her last name, said that kindergarten should be “mandatory in all states and school districts.” She has two young children, who are two and four and a half years old.

“There are numerous studies showing and suggesting that children who attend a full day of kindergarten have demonstrated greater progress in reading and math,” she continued. “…So many children go to pre- k and nursery for a longer day than the [one third] day East Meadow offers. It is barely two and a half hours -- what can they learn in this short time with a recess and snack time?”

Currently examining other options, Sabrina said she has explored the idea of local private and parochial schools – some of which come with a high price tag. “Who can afford kindergarten with a mortgage, utilities, taxes and no raise in five years,” she said.

Sabrina added, “I’m sure the district has been listening to parents complain about not having the full day kindergarten, but has there been enough people at one time campaigning or petitioning for this?”

Do you think East Meadow should adopt a full day kindergarten program?

Rob February 16, 2012 at 02:42 PM
In reponse to the "vicious cycle of ever increasing school taxes without affording parents the opportunity to work full time". In order to provide full time kindergarten, there would have to be twice as many kindergarten teachers. That would increase the taxes. Presently each kindergarten teacher has two half day classes on a single salary. You would double that. As far as studies concerning the benefits of full day kindergarten, there are studies that support both sides of the issue. However, I do see the majority favoring the full day kindergarten. But the one thing they are not taking into consideration is that instead of working the second half of the day, the parent could actually help educate the child thus giving more "one on one" education. Which is far better than a continued group setting. The parent and teacher could work together and discover strengths, weakness and the second half of the day would be without the natural distractions of a classroom enviroment. In today's world it is far more important to maintain a cooperative, supporting relationship between child, teacher and parent than it is to pay for someone else to do it.
Rob February 16, 2012 at 02:43 PM
This is attached to the above comment due to word/character limits. Sorry. I am really not trying to be sarcastic or disrespectful. I am just offering my observations of 20+ years working in an Elementary School. In two decades the cirriculum has become intense and both the parents and teachers can no longer do it alone. They have to work together and it needs to start the moment the child starts his academic career.
Jon L. February 16, 2012 at 04:07 PM
It does not matter if the state mandates full day kindergarten, the school board and the superintendent will spend 300K on outside counsel to fight the 250K mandate (fictional numbers used to illustrate point). There never will be full day K in East Meadow, it would ruin the suburban character of our community. Opinion only, and sarcastic opinion at that.
Ida February 16, 2012 at 05:04 PM
When my children were entering kindergarten (they are now 24 and 20 years old), this same discussion was taking place. Nothing has happened in 20 years. What makes anything think it will happen now? Jon L. you are right. The multiple layers of government in Nassau County will spend millions to fight this. They would never consider consolidating any of their jobs to accomplish full day kindergarten. And yes, full day kindergarten definitely would have helped me since I was a full time working mother. Instead, I paid a fortune for after school help and programs.
Rob February 16, 2012 at 07:19 PM
I can fully understand and even appreciate the sarcasm Jon. Even though I don't live in East Meadow, I do attend the B.O.E. meetings every month with few exceptions. Full day Kindergarten and busing issues are always the top subjects. It is hard to express myself as a neutral observer when I usually seem to support the BOE and Administration. But when I see the things brought up at community input forum I can't help but wonder what they are thinking. It is always about a single situation or a group of neighbors addressing a single situation and it always ends with something along the lines of "The district is too cheap to spend the money" or "The district never responds to anything- Just trying getting passed the secretaries". What gets me is that it is the communities money they are spending. If the "community" wanted something, there would be more than one or two people at the microphone. Even if the district added another bus route or full day kindergarten, it would not effect salaries. So why does everyone think they are being stone walled or that the District is hoarding the money? If they do not respond to every phone call...perhaps it is because there are over 7400 families in this district and if a half dozen have a problem, the district is still considering it as 7394 to 6. It only makes sense to be in favor of the silent majority as they all pay the same taxes. Again I mean no disrespect or offense. I am only offering an opinion and observation.
Jon L. February 16, 2012 at 10:05 PM
No offense taken at all Rob. I used to be one of the regulars at the microphone but found it to be a waste of my time. They (the trustees) never respond to questions asked and when I bombard them with FoIL requests I later found out that every request was run by the district counsel at 1/10th of an hours charge per letter, why would I keep wasting my own tax dollars on that? There are more than 7400 familes who reside in the district, there may 7400 families with students in the distirct and I don't care who you are, if a tax payer calls with a concern or a question it should be answered. They (administration) are accountable to the Trustees (although it seems to be reversed here in East Meadow) and in the end they are accountable to the taxpaying public. I never have seen a more dismissive adminstration than that of Mr. D'Angelo and his henchmen/women and I have been around since the Frank Saracino days. This district needs a permanant revoultion to overcome some of the inbreeding and backward thinking that has spread like a virus throughout the Central Administration and the BOE Trustees as it already trickling out to the administrators in the schools. Again opinion only after years of observation.
Mentsh February 17, 2012 at 03:25 AM
Yes, there are some benefits to full-day kindergarten, but most of the people are using the wrong arguments. "I work full-time" is a bad sell. Quite simply: don't. Spend time with your child. Find other ways to cut back (drop cable television and use an antenna, for example). You are earning money but spending it all so somebody else can raise your child. I know that these are blatant generalizations and that not every family CAN afford to have a stay-at-home parent for part of each day -- BUT -- this is not the school district's problem. We have enough budget woes with Albany's tax cap and unfunded mandates and cannot possibly double the amount of kindergarten teachers this year or in any foreseeable year. Half-day kindergarten has served our community well for decades. Believe it or not, NEW YORK STATE DOES NOT REQUIRE SCHOOL DISTRICTS TO OFFER KINDERGARTEN AT ALL! Ask most experienced early childhood teachers and you will see a similar answer to the kindergarten "dilemma": many children at that age are not developmentally ready to attend school for a full day. They would benefit from enrichment at home, with peers, and in the world -- in addition to the valuable classroom time. East Meadow's unique half-day kindergarten is a great example of how school districts can resist pressure and maintain quality programs that are time-tested and teacher-approved.
Jon L. February 17, 2012 at 04:17 AM
Mentsh- "Believe it or not, NEW YORK STATE DOES NOT REQUIRE SCHOOL DISTRICTS TO OFFER KINDERGARTEN AT ALL!" Until Commissioner King and Chancellor Tisch get their heads out of their rectum that will continue to be the case. Enough on that for now, except to say that is part of the reason we (New York State) did not work too hard for "Race to the Bottom" [sic] money. My beef has nothing to do with a working parent, my oldest was in a full day program in Pre-K yes, it was partially based on need but more on keeping her busy and occupied, 1/3 day kindergarden was a step back for her, good thing that there were enrichment programs around to choose from. As time has gone by it has become clear to the teachers and some parents, that there are two types of students in the system; those who were in full day programs for kindergarten and those who were not. In this day and age of "No Child Left Untested" [sic, again] I feel (again opinion, not based on any scientific study just observational) that full day kindergarten has become and partially unfunded mandate, I say partial as there are some incentives that full day K gets paid for at same rate as 1st grade in expense based aids and they count as a full pupil for calculation of foundation aid. (not as sure about this one, doing more research) At the end of the day I don't think that a time-tested program is going to work, it's time to evolve, NCLB and RTTT are forcing us to do such.
TM February 17, 2012 at 01:25 PM
As a mother of a 4 1/2 and 2 year old, I believe that our children are completely ready for full day kindergarten. My 4 year old has been in preschool for 2 years already at 3 hours a day, so full day for her would be a natural progression. She would love to spend more time at school, and has the energy and desire to learn. I feel that the school district is doing our young children a disservice by only offering half day. Of course I could supplement the kindergarten schedule by paying for supplementary activities, and I probably will end up doing just that, as I do right now to supplement pre-k. But really, we pay a fortune in taxes, and some of that should go towards a fuller kindergarten day. Why is East Meadow dragging on this? How are our surrounding school districts able to offer a full day and EM is not? What are they missing out on that their peers in other school districts are gaining? I have not met a parent yet who would not like to increase the kindergarten day. Not being familiar with the system, and emails to Mr D'Angelo having gone unanswered, I would welcome any insight as to what a parent can do to have this issue brought to the forefront and hopefully make some changes. Our children, and our neighborhood, deserve better.
Amanda February 17, 2012 at 02:10 PM
@ TM. Good Luck ever getting a response from Mr. D'Angelo. He NEVER answers any parents questions or concerns. I recently put a phone call in to his office regarding the Principal of my children's school and he actually had that very same Principal call me back. Went in circles for days. The system is not geared towards the parents/taxpayers at all. Very sad state of affairs.
Mentsh February 17, 2012 at 03:08 PM
Jon L.: thank you for your educated, researched comment! These seem to be rare these days online. Since you brought it up, I will completely agree with you on the RTTT issue: districts did not work hard to gain federal funding. Just to clarify for the "general public", however, let me say that many Long Island districts had no real incentive to push for Race to the Top Funding. In a great number of districts, the federal money gained by implementing sweeping changes would be significantly less than the amount of money needed to actually implement those programs. I also agree with your "two types of students" remark, but with some modifications. The real divide is between students who attended a quality preschool program (NOT day care) and those who did not. Studies show that students who "graduated" from preschool programs did markedly better by the time they were in kindergarten and first grade (and subsequent grades, of course). I'm not sure if there are any concrete, longitudinal studies about the kindergarten debate. Let me get back to you on that... The one statistic that I feel is so telling: in a major longitudinal study, the number one predictor of high school graduation is ... ? Ready? Being read to as a child. Yes, kindergarten is important. Parents are paramount.
Jon L. February 17, 2012 at 08:21 PM
100% true, there was VERY little incentive for New York State and the subordinate School Districts to go for RTTT money. What I think Commissioner Steiner (who was too busy with the Cathie Black mess in NYC) and Chancellor Tisch missed on this was that some districts may have used RTTT money to offset programs that were in line with the grant that they were planning on implementing anyway. The lack of effort at the statewide level shut the door for some districts to jump take advantage of the program. More or less a moot point here on Long Island because of TAFPU rates. But closed minded thinking similar to the way the Trustees and Administration handle the full day kindergarten issue locked all NYS Public Schools out of that money. Again just opinion about how closed minded thinking in the executive offices of the State and the Board rooms of the School Districts are doing our students at all levels a disservice.
sab February 21, 2012 at 08:45 PM
There is no excuse for the 1/3 day kindergarten and when calling the district their answer was not becuase of the budget it was " this is the way things have always been". But what does that mean? I have twins entering Kindergarten next year and I'm looking at private and enrichment programs. My son is speaking a second language (thanks to his FULL DAY Pre-K program). Why would I put him in 1/3 day kindergarten? Which by the way has no phys ed. No compuetrs. No second language. I understand parents should play a major role in education, but a childs education should be no less than 6 hours a day in a school setting- socializing, phys ed, gym, second language, math, english, science, computers and then come home to me and I will sit with them and do homework and extra help. And we as parents take them to museums and libraries and zoos on the weekends. This is why we pay teachers the money we pay them to work a half of a year. No disrespect to teachers- we have tons of teachers in our family. But there is just no excuse as to why we do not have full day. The budget? Cut back. Cut back on special programs etc. Let the parents decide where the money should be spent. We dont even have an option for a kindergarten enrichment from SCOPE (that we can pay extra for) why? Other half day kindergarten districts have it. Why do I need to have my kids bused all over east meadow for an "enrichment program"?
Chris April 01, 2012 at 09:16 PM
I am new in EMSD and could not believe it only offers a half-day kindergarten program, while the rest of the island offers the full-day program and we are paying just as much taxes. For those of us who care about this and want to make this happen, we need to work together, plan out the actions, and push this forward as a team. It's not going to be easy, but without our best effort it's never going to occur. Join me please if you agree and would like to contribute. Help me help you!
nicky May 03, 2012 at 02:59 PM
its bullshit! 5-6 year olds are ready for fulltime! my son would want to stay longer at pre-k when i picked him up! we paid a big amount of money to send him to kindergarten at st.brigids (which we shouldnt have had to if theres was full day kindergarten) and he loves it! he even stays after school couple of days a week for sports! what a great school! hes now reading,doing math and writing beautifully! theres no way he'd get that in 2 hours at bowling green! no way! anyone that thinks a 5-6 year old cant handle full day is babying their child too much! let them grow & learn! my son isnt even tired at the end of the school day!
nicky May 03, 2012 at 03:12 PM
sab my son is in st.brigids for kindergarten now! its such a great school and miss.brady the teacher is so great! my son loves it there and you dont have to be catholic! they also provide a bus! my second son will be attending kindergarten there also! look into it! they have computers,smart boards,ipads! my son is reading,writing & doing math! im very happy we chose this school!
Chris May 28, 2013 at 03:50 PM
Residents in Wantagh SD have just voted this month to start a full-day kindergarten program in Sept-2013, leaving East Meadow as the only SD in Nassau County without one. Why makes East Meadow so special that the kids growing up there should not have a full-day k-program??
Jenn June 17, 2013 at 11:26 PM
@ Chris -- Did Floral Park get full day Kindergarten this year? As far as I knew they also still have half day. ......and then there were 2 Suffolk has 7, unless one of them were lucky enough to have Wantagh's fate this past election. That makes 9 out of 118 districts in all.
Katy December 20, 2013 at 07:48 PM
I think this is so embarrassing to East Meadow that we don't have full day Kindergarten. How on earth can you attract young, work-class families to this community if you don't provide competitive schooling for their children? The person who controls the purse strings in this district is doing something VERY VERY wrong if we are one of three districts that can't afford to implement this.
dhanya February 28, 2014 at 12:26 PM
As a young working mom, with 2 children, I find it appalling that EM is the only district in Nassau County with 1/3 day KG program. How do the lower taxed SD do it then? I've lived in several towns in Nassau County and have never even heard of ONLY half day KG. Some school districts have them, in case there are children who can't handle full days. This I totally understand. But my child, and many children I know, who are attending KG privately, are way ahead of the game. They are going to be bored in 1st grade to be honest, because thats how advanced these Early childhood education centers are. Its a shame that I have to shell out thousands of dollars school in taxes when my child doesn't even get the benefit of the so called "great school district" and then pay for private school on top of that.

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