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Petition in Favor of Full-Day Kindergarten Circulating in Radnor

Radnor Township School District plans on implementing full-day kindergarten in its three elementary schools starting in September.

Radnor Elementary School
Radnor Elementary School
Radnor Township School District plans on implementing full-day kindergarten in its three elementary schools starting in September.

A petition is circulating in favor of the implementation.

It reads, in part:

The decision has been made to implement full day kindergarten (FDK) in Radnor Township School District beginning with the 2014/2015 school year and the school board has offered opportunities for residents to be heard.  A page on the RTSD website is dedicated to information about FDK, found HERE including a PowerPoint presentation of the research and planning for this implementation.  This presentation offers valuable information on the benefits, plans, and challenges that this transition will incur.  

As with any big change, there will be a need for flexibility as the inevitable challenges arise.  Despite the need to move classrooms, do construction to alter spaces such as pods, changes to lunch times, etc. the benefits of FDK far outweigh the adjustments necessary to make this happen and a delay would be detrimental to our students. 

The reasons for full day Kindergarten are plentiful, it states. Click here to read the reasons they cite. 

Not everyone is supportive of the initiative. A petition is circulating that opposes the immediate implementation of full-day kindergarten
Annie Webb January 14, 2014 at 09:49 AM
I'd really like to hear details of what these "benefits" are, because I sure haven't heard why this is worth the projected $18m deficit in the RTSD budget over the next 5 years. Sure, we have reserves to fund it for 2014-2015, however the subsequent four years show a deficit. This is directly from information provided by the school district. Please attend the facilities meeting tonight at 6:30pm at WES to voice your concerns about this rush for FDK bankrupting our school district. There is no reason to rush this until a full financial, facilities and educational plan has been put together. There is no such plan in place. We need to expect more from our school board.
Christopher Merken January 14, 2014 at 10:52 AM
I respectfully disagree. I attended Montessori school for four years in Connecticut before my family moved to Radnor. I started first grade in Radnor Elementary School when it was brand new, and I probably should have skipped that grade. The material is so low-level because unlike other states, Pennsylvania does not require students to begin school until a later age. The result is first grade teachers assuming students have no background skills that would have been learned in full day kindergarden. I understand that the financing needs to be worked out. But the concept itself is sound, and there is no reason to reject a program that can only benefit students in Radnor.
Annie Webb January 14, 2014 at 10:57 AM
Chris, the financing really cannot be worked out. The $18m deficit is already taking into account the highest tax increases we can take under Act 1 of 2.1% each year. We can apply for an exception and get maybe another million from the taxpayers, but there's still a huge shortfall that will result in programs being cut for all students and teachers being let go. The benefits of this program are not worth losing everything else we will if this goes through. And, the financing should be worked out BEFORE we implement it, not afterwards as a band aid. Cart before the horse and all that.
Christopher Merken January 14, 2014 at 11:00 AM
Well Radnor knows a lot about cutting programs. In the 12 years I was there, numerous programs were cut and nobody seemed to really object to that. One was the late bus. That was a critical way for me to get home in middle school after participating in after-school activities. Unlike many in Radnor, both my parents work, so I ended up getting stranded for hours because the late bus was cancelled. But of course we have money for things that some people consider important. I'm not disagreeing with you that the finances need to be worked out. I'm simply stating that full day kindergarten is a good idea.
Annie Webb January 14, 2014 at 11:01 AM
I'd like to see the late bus come back, too, Chris. A lot of kids in Radnor would benefit from that. It would never, ever happen if FDK goes through.
Christopher Merken January 14, 2014 at 11:04 AM
But it won't ever happen even if FDK does not go through. Once the district cuts a program they don't reinstate it. The late bus has been cut for around five years. Yet parents aren't up in arms about it. While this is a tangent, it proves a point. There's not suddenly going to be a mad rush to reinstate other programs if FDK is not approved, which it already was, so it's kind of pointless to argue about it anyway.
Annie Webb January 14, 2014 at 11:14 AM
Chris, believe me, there are parents up in arms about it, and parents who are trying to get new programs and some cut ones reinstate. As I've offered before, I'd be happy to talk to you directly about it. There's a lot more support for positive changes than you seem to realize.
jcb January 14, 2014 at 12:13 PM
Chris, the RTSD's own implementation report admits that the academic progress of FDK is irrelevant compared to half-day by the end of first grade, or second grade, or possibly third. Furthermore, I just saw an article in the Inquirer holding up RHS as a model school with 98% going to college. Those seniors seem to have managed well. So, why not pluck out the kids who are at risk for kindergarten, and give them full-day? Because the majority of kids do just fine with half day. It's like watering your whole garden of cacti when there are only a few ferns on the outskirts. And we are paying dearly for that water.
Christopher Merken January 14, 2014 at 12:33 PM
Well why not do away with kindergarten altogether and simply start with first grade? I didn't attend kindergarten in Radnor, neither did my sister. We both went through montessori school, which seems to prepare students for second grade in Radnor rather than first. So what exactly is learned at half-day kindergarten? Or is it glorified babysitting?
Heather Klaehn January 14, 2014 at 01:35 PM
I can't speak for everyone and I don't have time to list everything my son learned from his wonderful K teacher at WES last year, but he did learn to read and write. I think that counts. And it was not at all glorified babysitting.
RadnorResident January 15, 2014 at 08:10 AM
Why is RTSD forcing FDK on every child at the expense of the Radnor tax payers? If RTSD is not happy with the performance of the Radnor student body the best, most proven way to improve in K-2 is smaller class size. With the K classes in Radnor maxed out with 22 students in each, the students are being short changed and the teachers are struggling to get through the curriculum. Why should parents be REQUIRED to send their kindergarten children to school for 6.5 hours in over crowded classrooms and schools and have the Radnor tax payers foot the bill? Let's get the schools prepared to house the current students before we take on more.

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