The survey results are in for the first regular year of full-day kindergarten in Cherry Hill since it was implemented in the 2019-’20 school year.
Assistant Superintendent Dr. Farah Mahan broke down the results at the Sept. 12 board of education meeting. She noted that in total, there were 283 respondents from all backgrounds, and included parents, teachers and the full-day kindergarten committee members.
Overall, the program has been met with a positive response.
“Over 90% of parent respondents were satisfied with the full day program and there were over 200 open ended comments provided which highlighted numerous teachers by names along with complimentary accolades as well as examples of growth and achievements for their child, care and dedication for students, emphasis on newsletters and communication which highlighted happenings in the class,” said Mahan.
“And I can tell you it was a pleasure to read all of the comments as they reflected the true vision of the full-day kindergarten program and highlighted the dedication of the full-day kindergarten collective group.”
The biggest discrepancy with survey results between parents and teachers came with the question, “How prepared do you feel your child is for entering kindergarten?” Parents rated their children 81 to 86% ready in the different sub-categories, while teachers rated the children 36 to 50% ready for the same sub-categories.
“Hopefully this gap will be closed, because we will be able to ensure consistency of curricular expectations as we move forward.”
Regarding preschool expansion, as of the board meeting, the district still has not received an update on whether or not the preschool expansion grant was approved.
The recommendations following the survey included continuing to offer the full-day kindergarten program, examine factors contributing to lower satisfaction levels with kindergarten Special Education Services which ranked the lowest (72%) among all resources (rated at 89 to 92% satisfaction), prioritize enhancement academic enrichment opportunities and targeted interventions for at-risk students and consider intducing educational assistants into the classroom to increase support.
The Building and Facilities Committee also gave an update on the projects that were completed over the summer, including improving 500,000 square feet of roofing; improvements to flooring, lockers and hallways at Rosa Middle School; adding ramps and railings for accessibility at certain schools; and new playground equipment at some of the elementary schools.
Board member Adam Greenbaum addressed concerns about the rubber mulch being used as a base layer in the poured-in-place surface. There had been some concerns about the playground surface, something he said was we discsused with Environmental Resolutions Inc., the firm that handles the environmental oversight of bond projects.
“The final play surface is not rubber mulch, it’s a poured-in-place rubber surface, safe, durable and most importantly, accessible,” Greenbaum explained, restating what EPI representatives had said at committee meetings.
“There is rubber mulch base layer to provide cushioning (for) the finished poured-in-place surface,” he added. “This base layer is contained, it’s considered safe recycled building material, and it’s considered a standard practice when installing this type of playground surface.”
The life span for the surface is 10 to 12 years, though it could be longer, and the base layer is not expected to break down significantly until about 60 to 70 years, at which point it would likely have been replaced.
The full meeting presentation is available for viewing on the district YouTube page for its Sept. 12 meeting.
In other news:
- The board welcomed a number of new staff members at the meeting
- Board member Joel Mayer took time during old business to address a social media post that compared the Cherry Hill Public School District to the Haddonfield and Moorestown school districts and refuted the idea that Cherry scores are lower because of its Diversity, Equity and Inclusion initiatives.
The next board of education meeting is on Tuesday, Sept. 26, at 6:30 p.m.