Do You Know All You Want to about Full Day Kindergarten and its Costs?

January 25, 2019

by Len Lathrop
Voters will be asked to vote on Full-Day Kindergarten on March 12 as a group of concerned citizens has placed a petition warrant article on the ballot. Does the cost of educating a 5 year old in Hudson have you confused? Wondering if profits from Keno betting will fund kindergarten?
Yes, voters will be asked to approve or disapprove the question in March. How did the question reach the ballot for full-day kindergarten, and now, while not announced, it appears by the action of the administration, that the school committee might have gotten behind the citizens’ request. The school board first presented a plan for a two-classroom student lottery program (about 35 students) and then voted to ask the administration for three options about how to house and operate FDK. The board then asked that it be included in a strategic plan as it seemed the department was not prepared for its implementation. And let’s not forget the school board supported establishment of a kindergarten committee in April 2018. At first, it was primarily made up of school administrators and a few parents and, based on attendance at school board presentations, there appeared to be more school personnel than parents.
In 1988, Oregon was the 49th state to require public kindergarten. After a long wait, the Grate State joined the rest of the country in 2009 when the New Hampshire Legislature directed all public school districts to have a public kindergarten program by the start of that school year.
New Hampshire law does not require parents to send kids to kindergarten, period. New Hampshire’s compulsory attendance education laws begin at age 6. Seventeen states, plus the District of Columbia, require children to attend kindergarten, although the length of day varies across states. Thirteen states, plus the District of Columbia, require their districts to offer full-day kindergarten, according to Education Commission of the States, a trusted source for comprehensive knowledge and unbiased resources on education policy issues ranging from early learning through post secondary education.
In Hudson, the kindergarten committee feels the time is now, as is seen with the petition warrant article. Let’s review the numbers for a better look at the cost of changing from half day to full day. For those on the fringe of this question, currently Hudson offers a half-day system housed at the Library Street School, five classes in the morning division and five classes in the afternoon group. The same classrooms and teachers are used for both sessions.
Several weeks ago, the three different scenarios for the start up were outlined; however, the numbers might have been mentioned, but may not have been fully understood based on questions from many voters, who asked about the ongoing cost for the first year after the start-up costs. Without going into each scenario, if you average the three possible plans, every year additional costs would be $476,648, based on the presentation given to the school board by the administration. The current cost of half-day kindergarten based on the budget document reviewed at a recent public hearing by the budget committee is $573,676. Now you can’t just add them together for an annual cost to operate.
But look at it this way; the average cost for an elementary student in Hudson is $13,910, as reported by the NH Department of Education. Both the superintendent and the business administrator agreed for the discussion that these costs for the FDK would be about the same on an ongoing per-year basis. So, with 216 projected FDK students, up from the current 168 half-day students, at that expense, FDK would cost a total of $3,004,560 per year. That would be offset by state funding of $1,800 per pupil and Keno funding of $1,100 for a total of $2,900 per pupil or a total of $237,600.
Using quick math, the additional cost for the program for the 48 additional students projected to come from private school enrollments would be $595,680.
Have more questions? The Hudson School District is presenting a Forum Discussion on Full-Day Kindergarten on Wednesday, Jan. 30, at the Hills Memorial Library, 18 Library St., at 6:30 p.m.