After reviewing a number of options for All-Day Kindergarten (ADK), the board voted to implement a pilot program beginning next school year. One class will be added at each school, with the option to add another class if demand requires.
We decided to go with a tuition-based program that will be a break-even for the district. Milford does not receive funding if we add to the kindergarten day. This is because we are on what is called the “Funding Cap” from the state. We are placed on the Cap because we are considered a “wealthy” district. Under the new funding formula, this means we lose over $2 million a year, plus additional support if we add an ADK program.
Because of this, it would cost $1.1 million to provide ADK for all our students. This is a huge investment and would require us to return to the voters at least a year earlier than projected. So the question becomes, do we feel our kindergarten program is behind and investing this is needed for student success?
The answer, at this point, is no: our kindergarten program is strong and our students are successful. We provide intervention support for students who need it, and by third grade (when students must pass the Third Grade Reading Guarantee), only a handful of students, if that, require additional intervention.
So why are we adding an ADK program at all? Many families want an ADK program, either for extra support or because their child is ready for more in their day. We have a good number of students who choose to attend ADK programs elsewhere already; a little over 10% of each year’s class will have attended an ADK program. We also see the opportunity to go more in-depth in a full day program. By law, since an ADK program is not required, we cannot provide additional instruction outside of what is presented in the half-day program; but we can work with students at a deeper level on that same material. This is especially valuable for those students who need more support at an early age.
Will students who do not attend the ADK program be “behind?” No, they will not. The majority is not currently behind where they should be, and we will still ensure each child is on track for age-appropriate development. Our Elementary Curriculum Director, Dr. Jill Chin, will be developing evaluation processes to measure the success of each of our students and the program overall. This will help the administration and board make data-based decisions about the program in the future.
Each class will have up to 24 students. Tuition is $3,000, with slots for reduced tuition ($900) for those on the Federal Reduced Lunch program, and slots for free tuition for those on the Federal Free Lunch program. These rates will allow the district to break even on the program.
If more families would like to participate than room allows, slots will be determined by a lottery. After the lottery, if there is still enough demand to open another class(es), families may choose to attend the additional class, which may be intradistrict (i.e., not your home school and no transportation provided).
Registration deadline is June 1; more information will be released in the next month or so on how to register.