Vote yes for tuition-free full-day kindergarten

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Dear residents:

Canton needs tuition-free full-day kindergarten (FDK) for all children. Stoughton has offered tuition-free FDK for 10 years for all their kids. Canton charges students $3,500. Statewide, 90 percent of children attend FDK; more than 70 percent of towns charge zero tuition. During this current school year, only about 70 percent of Canton kids attend FDK and the norm is to pay $3,500. Westwood charges half of what Canton charges.

Canton is implementing Common Core Standards (CCS), a national curriculum for all grades, including kindergarten. Experts agree it is nearly impossible to implement CCS successfully in only half-day kindergarten sessions. Yet Canton has no plan to implement FDK for everyone and there is no plan for it to be tuition-free. We lag behind.

When I sponsored ATM Article 34, I contacted the School Committee and offered to withdraw it if they had an all-inclusive FDK plan. In an email response, I was told, “There is no plan.”

In fact, I can find no previous record of the School Committee even discussing FDK tuition relief at meetings during Superintendent Jeff Granatino’s administration. Instead, School Committee members currently resist Article 34. One said to effect, “If we offer (FDK tuition-free), you may find people moving here just for that reason.” (As stated, 70 percent of Massachusetts already offers it.) Wouldn’t it be better for property values if Canton schools were even more desirable?

Recently the Canton Public Schools budgeted only $313,000 for kindergarten teaching expenses to cover the first half of the day as the state requires. But CPS charged Canton students $459,000 in tuition to cover the second half of the day. There is inequity. We gamble with a lottery to allocate seats in FDK sessions. Some kids skip the lottery and still get to go to FDK. A ticket to the FDK lottery costs $350.

My research has uncovered other relevant data that space won’t allow me to fully present in this letter. Feel free to contact me at abraconi@aol.com for more information. I will give a presentation at annual town meeting and might post it to YouTube this Sunday.

Please read your warrant, attend town meeting and support Article 34. Please take factual pride in our community. There is an opportunity for you to make a difference.

Why are we so far behind in offering full-day kindergarten tuition-free when the school budget is up 40 percent since 2007?

Anthony Braconi

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avatar Posted by on May 8 2015. Filed under From One Citizen to Another, Opinion. Both comments and pings are currently closed.
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