Full-day kindergarten initiative gains support in Manchester
In the budget she unveiled this week, Superintendent Debra Livingston proposed spending $145,000 to extend full-day kindergarten to all city elementary schools. Currently, most schools already offer full-day kindergarten, but a handful only have half-day kindergarten or none at all.
The city's pre-K program is much more limited than its kindergarten program; approximately 350 students are enrolled. The vast majority are designated special needs students. The program is mandated under the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act and is largely funded with federal money. A limited number of slots in program are open to low-income students and to tuition-paying nondisabled students.
"That tracks with some of the data I've seen concerning the dropout rate," he said. "For every student that drops out, that costs the community they live in $250,000 in lost revenue and increased welfare and incarceration costs."
Ward 8 board member Erika Connors said expanding full-day kindergarten was a matter of fairness. "We have people paying the same tax base but not getting the same kindergarten," she said.
Livingston said she agrees that both parents and the district have responsibilities, but she stressed that times have changed.
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