Tiverton School Committee Nixes Full-Day Kindergarten


With the victory of the petitioner’s budget that I submitted for the town of Tiverton, the most significant question facing the School Committee was whether to go forward with plans to implement full-day kindergarten or to deprive another 120 Tiverton children of that service, which the school department has declared to be critically important.  The five members — all of them endorsed by the local political action committee Tiverton 1st and (I believe) the Tiverton Democratic Town Committee — chose student deprivation.

From a budgetary standpoint, I find the move inexplicable, for reasons I describe over on Tiverton Fact Check.  Even folks in other cities and towns may find the situation telling of the ridiculous way in which Rhode Island law splits local government into the school department and the municipal government.

Because the town is legally bound to whatever number it estimated for state aid, and because the estimate included a $63,000 bump in state aid based on kindergarten’s going to full day (which effectively doubles the number of children for that grade for the purposes of the funding formula), the town must now come up with that money.

As a separate matter, for its proposed budget, the school department underestimated its expenses by around $423,000.  That would have been the case no matter which budget won the vote at the financial town referendum.  By cancelling full-day kindergarten, the school committee effectively transfers $63,000 from the state (for full-day K only) to the town (for any purpose), helping it to close its own estimating gap.

Not counting a somewhat-protected reserve required in the town’s home rule charter, the municipal government already has a much lower unassigned fund balance than does the school department, and the Town Council and administrator are already in a quest for any dollar they can find in order to accommodate the budget vote of the people.  Yet, nobody on the municipal side has commented on the school department’s decision, whether because they don’t understand the budget implications or just don’t care.

Returning to the School Committee, while it may be difficult to explain its decision from a budgetary standpoint, it isn’t at all difficult to understand from a political standpoint.  From the members’ comments at their last meeting (video linked in my Fact Check post), it’s obvious that they just don’t want to prove the supporters of the petitioner’s budget right.  They don’t want to admit that their scare tactics are scare tactics, so they followed through on the threat.

These are the people whom Tiverton has chosen to oversee the education of its children.

  • ShannonEntropy

    Warrington & Yours Truly are on the same page on this one: all-day kindergarten is nothing more than taxpayer-subsidized child care

    Repeated studies have shown ZERO long-term benefit of *any* pre·school “education”
    (( see, fer ex http://www.hslda.org/docs/nche/Issues/S/State_Early_Education.asp ))

    Confession: when our daughter was ruled to be “too immature” to advance to 1st grade, they wanted her repeat half-day K

    But we said NO FRICKEN WAY !! We are paying five figures in property taxes, most of which goes to the schools … so shut up and give us our dam all-day free child care [ a/k/a 1st grade ]

    They were right and she ended up failing 1st grade … but at least she was out of the house the whole day that year

    • Mike678

      Common core standards–whether you agree with them or not–have driven the requirement for full-day K. The performance standards are too onerous for 1/2 day to meet unless the parents are involved–and in this day and age, many aren’t. It’s the sign of the times–you get to pay for other peoples incompetence.

      That said, you are correct–over time, no difference. Moreover, some studies show increased student dislike of school and behavioral problems with full-day K, but don’t look for the teacher’s union to admit this.

  • Why?

    For someone obsessed with knowing the identity of your critics, you don’t seem to have the same attitude with your allies. Why the refusal to identify the authors of your budget? You don’t think we all know it was Fat Jeff/Hatch Act?

    • Tiverton Fact Check

      Why is protecting Jeff [snip] Caron so important to you?

      • Justin Katz

        Unnecessary personal attacks do nothing to further debate. We strive for a level of discussion well beyond the 3rd grade commentary that you feel at liberty to post here because you’re anonymous.