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PTO Lobbying Against Reconfiguration, But Superintendent Said it is Off the Table

The debate over all-day kindergarten rages on.

An elementary school Parent-Teacher Organization to trying to rally its parents to actively lobby against a systemwide reconfiguration as part of an all-day kindergarten plan in the proposed 2013-14 education budget.

The school system's top executive, however, said it is not formally on the table.

A memo was sent out by the PTO on Saturday. Here is its transcript:

Hello Parents/Guardians of LSS:
I am writing to encourage you to please attend the BOE budget workshop, this coming Wednesday, January 30th from 6-8 in the Board of Education building, 3rd floor.

It has been brought to our attention that the idea of reconfiguration has been brought to the table again, this year, as part of the BOE budget process. A suggestion was made to connect all day kindergarten with reconfiguration to help it "get passed" into the town budget. A few members of the BOE believe that by connecting the two concepts it will "change" parents' minds about the reconfiguration.

At the meeting Wednesday, there will be an opportunity for public comment at the beginning. I would urge those that are concerned about reconfiguration being passed as part of the budget to attend the meeting and restate your position on reconfiguration.  Emails to BOE members are also highly recommended.

Regards,
Rachel Sutherland
LSS PTO Co-President

The school board discussed reconfiguration as part of state-mandated education reform before the budget process, but abandoned it when it became clear the concept was vastly unpopular.

Superintendent of Schools Mary Conway said the concept of reconfiguration has come up in the budget deliberation process, especially after the school board asked her to include all-day kindergarten for all five elementary schools as opposed to her original idea of phasing it in.

Board of Education member William Nicholson said he "did remind my fellow BOE members about how the idea of reconfiguration was received last time."

Conway said a motion was made regarding reconfiguration for discussion purposes in an effort to determine if would reduce the cost of implementing all day kindergarten district wide, an explanation Nicholson concurred with.

She said the motion was withdrawn and reconfiguration was never voted on.

"So to me, it is not even on the table," Conway said. Nicholson called it just, "a topic of discussion."

Conway said all-day kindergarten is important as school systems statewide move toward common core standards in each curriculum.

"It's rigorous," Conway said while adding kindergarten is now taught, "two grade levels beyond what is once was."

She added, "It would give us more time with students - there is very little time with two-and-a-half hours in a session. The extra time is very necessary to get the work done."

She said the board has "pinched pennies" over the past two fiscal years and education reform could put those minimal increases in the rear view mirror. 
The school system budget proposal for the 2013-14 fiscal year now stands at  $51.9 million. That represents an increase of 7.87 percent from this year's $48.1 million budget.

She also knows money is tight.

"We will still continue on if (all-day kindergarten) is not there," she said. 

The Board of Education is slated to meet tonight at 7 at Center Road School  and Wednesday at 6 for a budget workshop.

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