Superintendent Joseph Meloche explains why full day kindergarten is excluded from bond referendum

The Cherry Hill School Board or Education plans to implement full day kindergarten in all 12 elementary schools by Sep. 2019 and will not be included in the bond referendum

The costs associated with implementing full-day kindergarten will be excluded from the proposed 2018 bond referendum as determined by the Cherry Hill Board of Education.

The school board plans to implement full-day kindergarten in all 12 elementary schools by September 2019, according to Superintendent Joseph Meloche. Meloche explained why full-day kindergarten was not included in the referendum, saying that with various projects and plans already attached to the referendum, plans to implement full-day kindergarten would easily “get lost” in the mix. The importance of establishing full-day kindergarten would not only be delayed by a year if included in the referendum but would also make it exceedingly difficult for the board to prioritize it accordingly.

In the school district’s 2020 survey, full-day kindergarten was the most requested item for families, communities and staff members.

“Currently, we are one out of three school districts in Camden County that do not have a full-day kindergarten,” Meloche said.

The other two districts that also lack full-day kindergarten are Haddonfield and Haddon Heights. Other schools have adopted the mentality that full-day kindergarten provides a chance for children to develop learning tools they will take with them throughout their educational careers. Having full-day kindergarten introduces “content area specialists” with arts and music backgrounds to kids at a young age that otherwise, if left at home, may not have that same learning opportunity, Meloche explained.

The board is in the planning process, but realizes to accommodate full-day kindergarten, the school board must hire approximately 15 more teachers. The board does not anticipate any cuts being made during this process.

The board identifies the necessary conditions needed to implement full-day kindergarten such as outfitting buildings to ensure compliance with Quality Single Accountability Continuum. To meet QSAC standards, each school requires a bathroom in all kindergarten classrooms and equity for all 12 elementary schools regarding allocation of designated teaching space, according to the school district’s website.

The board urges residents to participate in regular discussions and be an active part of the strategic planning process to ensure the voices of the community are heard and taken into consideration through these changes.

The proposed bond referendum vote will take place on Sep. 25, 2018. The district plans to discuss items to be included in the bond referendum through the early part of 2018.

The next strategic planning meeting will take place on Nov. 8, at 7 p.m. at 1220 Winston Way Barclay Early Childhood Center. For more details on full-day kindergarten being implemented in the district, go to https://www.chclc.org/academics/curriculum.