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Tewksbury Townie Blog: Tewksbury Full-Time Kindergarten Task Force Info

Oct 23, 2014 06:03PM ● By Ashley Turner

Editor's note: From time to time, we will be running entries from a new blog called "Tewksbury Townie", authored by Tewksbury Mom Ashley Turner. Click here to visit her blog page.)

(Wednesday) a meeting was held to see if we can get a good group of people to dive into some research to make full time K possible in Tewksbury. This would not eliminate the half day option but I think the majority would agree that our children all need to be on equal levels when in comes to the first few years of educations. It’s crucial in fact. Dr. O’Connor Ed.D, Superintendent is the head of this committee. He’s very passionate about this cause. The number one question was why implement Full-day Kindergarten for all children? I think the answers to that question vary among us but the three best answers we came up with were these:

-To balance the academic needs of kindergarten while still addressing student’s social and emotional need.

-Eliminates an inequity caused when some families can afford our current extended-day program and other cannot.

-Community survey conducted when applying for DESE grant indicated overwhelming support in the community.

These answer’s raised a lot of good points. There are a lot of families and children that have specials needs children and when there is a program such as the two and a half day program,these children who need extra support so that they do not struggle later on in there academic career are not getting the attention they need at the pace they need it. The pace is just too quick for most and straining. We want our children to thrive and relax, not be frustrated that they are not absorbing the lessons in in such a short time.

Some children are perfectionists, some very competitive, others just go with the flow but more often than not your child wants to feel like an equal to his or her peers. This is necessary for children at a young age, do you remember what it felt like when someone around you did just a little bit better then you when you tried your hardest? Do you want your child to feel that way? So let’s get all our children on the same page, so they can run together as a whole and not just walk as a fraction.

The support at last nights meeting was overwhelming. This group of Administrators, Teacher, Parents, and Tewksbury Supporters and residents is ready to hit this project full on. Myself included. I’m just a parent of a past and future Kindergartner, but if we look to the future and see what the benefits of this program will be for not only the students but the community as well. It will make our town look more attractive to potential buyers. It will increase property value, and last but not least i think it will cause our towns people to come together as one and work towards making Tewksbury a better place for us to live and grown. You can never stop improving.

So there are a lot of positives, but in a committee like this we have to think about the opposition, the nay sayers. With questions like:

-How will it effect taxes?

-Will it over crowd classes?

-Is the a enough current space or will we need to expand?

-Will Part-Time still be an option?

-How much is it going to cost? (this is the big one along with taxes)

These are all great and valid questions. No one is going to want to pay more taxes. That we know for sure. But these questions can and will be answered.

Last nights meeting consisted of about 20 individuals, it went over a quick power point presentation that  addressed what the curriculum is and how much the kindergarten teachers actually have to teach. 21 slides of what needs to be taught by the end of the year and if you can afford the $4,000 for full-time great your child will be on easy street and be able to work at a leisurely pace but the children in the part-time program with be forced to cram and rush through their assignments just to make sure it’s all covered in the time allotted.

Other things covered at the meeting were, cost projections(how much will this cost?) Funding Plan (where is this money coming from?) Enrollment Projection(will there be enough students to fill the need for full-time kindergarten at no cost?) Space needs(where will this program be held and is there enough room currently or are we going to have to build?) It also went over past NESDEC enrollment projections and let me tell me they weren’t spot on. It’s shows that over the past 10 years there has been a decrease in enrollment these stats i will post for all to see.

As you can can see there are a lot of questions,comments and concerns. But our kick off meeting was a great eye opener into why it’s crucial for the town of Tewksbury to Implement Full-Time kindergarten. There’s Also talk that if for some reason we can’t reach our goal (but I’m very optimistic we will) can we offer full time at a reduced rate.

Thank you all who attended the meeting and all of our supporters and to Dr.O’Connor and Mrs. Theriault-Regan for running this meeting and gathering this group of supporters. I will continue you to update you on the progress of our project. Lot’s of research and planning needs to go into this and your support and information is greatly appreciated. Please feel free to comment any questions, concerns and statements that you have about this post and I will get back to you as soon as i have the right response.

The next Meeting will be held on November 18th. Keep a look out for my research and planning ideas as well.

(Ashley Turner is a Tewksbury Mom. In her words, "In my blog Tewksbury Townie I’m hoping to reach out and enrich our community by giving you details of the towns on goings from day to day, along with following certain committees and groups. I also want to keep parents up to date with school information and events. Help the community get involved in our children’s education and school events.")

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