The Rocky Hill School District may be preparing to switch to all-day kindergarten.
The school board unanimously approved a motion Thursday night to direct Superintendent Mark Zito and Assistant Superintendent Marian Hourigan to conduct a "feasibility study" on the possibility. Zito declared that the administrators' initial steps will consist of assessing enrollment, space, and fiscal considerations, as well as surveying district parents. They also will research the long-term benefits of the program to students, based on "longitudinal studies" of kids who have attended all-day kindergarten, and will additionally evaluate "staffing implications."
If Rocky Hill implements full-day kindergarten, it will join Wethersfield, Glastonbury and 71 other school districts in the state that have already adopted it. Many other districts are also mulling the change, including those in nearby towns Berlin, Durham, and Southington.
Hourigan cited the need to double instructional time so kindergartners are better able to meet the federal Common Core standards adopted by the state. The first Common Core assessments are scheduled for the 2014-15 school year.
Other benefits identified by Hourigan include childrens' social and emotional development, the opportunity for earlier academic intervention for students who need it, and the provision of time for lunch, recess, art, music, and physical education.
"Full-day kindergarten would allow for a more relaxed pace of learning," she summarized.
Several members of the public testified in favor of the proposal. Rocky Hill High School teacher Teresa Aurigemma stated that she was there "as a parent" of a child nearing kindergarten-age, but that in spite of her affinity for the district and town, she planned to apply for admission to a magnet school because of the lack of opportunities afforded in half-day kindergarten.
Stay-at-home mom Jen Baldwin, meanwhile, commented that her son currently attends an all-day pre-school in Wethersfield, but that next year when she enrolls him in a Rocky Hill kindergarten, it will represent "a step back." Other parents related that they once thought the benefits of all-day kindergarten were for parents and not kindergartners, until they realized the socialization deficit their children experienced by having minimal chance for interaction with their peers in a 2.5 hour school day.
Zito and Horigan will report their findings to the board once they have concluded their study. In the interim, the issue is expected to be raised again at upcoming meetings of the Curriculum Committee.