Special to The Sun: More than 1,500 supporters have signed an online petition in favor of full-day kindergarten at no extra cost.
An online petition in favor of full-day kindergarten at no extra cost for the Evesham Township School District has garnered more than 1,500 signatures from supporters, prompting the board of education to consider how to achieve that goal.
The district currently offers full-day kindergarten at a rate of $5,500 per student, and is one of only two in Burlington County that is tuition-based.
Danielle Remus, an Evesham resident, said parents have continually brought that issue to the attention of the board and even requested it provide a cost analysis comparing the amount of money received for full-day students and the potential cost of a program without tuition.
“People move to Marlton thinking it’s a great school district, and when it’s time to enroll their kids (they realize) it’s only half-day kindergarten, and if you want them to be full day, you have to pay $5,500 every year,” Remus said.
The district’s registration form for kindergarten notes that a full-day program is preferable to half day, Remus added.
“They tell you how good it is and how beneficial it is for the child,’’ she noted. “Well, if it’s so beneficial, then why aren’t you providing that for every child?”
The district’s full-day kindergarten tuition was established after a review of costs at nearby public and private schools and state-established rates. Its tuition is half the cost of the common rates seen in the review.
School Superintendent Dr. Justin Smith said although it’s too early to commit to a decisive timeline, the board is actively listening to residents and discussing that issue and will share more information on a decision in the near future.
“We appreciate the voices and advocacy of community members,” he said. “The goal is very valuable, and we want to do our due diligence in looking at it and trying to think of ways to get there.
“Great topic, challenging timing,” Smith added.
Smith also noted that full-day kindergarten at no extra cost would set the district’s operating budget back approximately $2 million a year. The board is currently considering solutions that would allow it to implement the program for no extra cost in a way that will minimize damage to the budget.
The township expects to lose $7.9 million in state funding over a seven-year span. The 2022-’23 school year will be year five of seven, with the former projected to have a reduction total of $1.6 million. There is no clear indication as to what action the state will take beyond year seven, but the board is hopeful the state will keep funding flat – ensuring no cuts in state funding levels – or put money back into the budget.
Residents interested in signing the online petition can do so at www.change.org/ETSDFDKforall.
For additional questions or concerns, Smith can be reached directly at email@example.com or Danielle Magulick, director of curriculum and instruction, at firstname.lastname@example.org.