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Edison Township Public Schools will offer full-day kindergarten in fall; online registration has begun

EDISON – Come September 2022, the Edison Township Public School District will offer full-day kindergarten again after more than a decade.

The district sent out a notice on Feb. 16 detailing the online registration process.

Schools Superintendent Bernard Bragen said they expect an enrollment of 1,250 students.

And with the district continuing to deal with overcrowding issues, the big question school officials have been fielding is accommodation.

Bragen confidently said “we do have room” at a Board of Education meeting on Feb. 15.

“Our kindergarten enrollment right now is around 750 students in the current [two] half-day programs that we have,” he said. “We usually see a bump of 30-35% in first grade. We’re excited about it.

“One of the transportation pieces is buses are going to those elementary schools anyway for those students eligible at the elementary level and it actually might be a break-even point with additional students because currently with two half-day programs those are four bus runs that will be combined into two.”

Board member Brian Rivera, who chairs the board’s Curriculum Committee, said the topic of full-day kindergarten led to a “passionate” discussion during a virtual committee meeting on Feb. 3.

He said Baninder Mahabir, the district’s chief academic officer and elementary administrator for grades Pre-K to 5, shared research gains and benefits with the committee.

Mahabir said research has shown students who attend outside providers for kindergarten are not as prepared as students who attended the half-day program in Edison.

Providing full-day kindergarten will benefit students on a social and academic level with everyone on the same playing field, she told the committee.

“[The committee] discussed enrollment, talked about training for staff … talked about transportation,” Rivera said, noting full-day kindergarten will “realize more focused instruction due to the number of kids in the classroom.”

Moving forward, Bragen said they will continue reviewing logistics with the Curriculum and the Technology committees as the district approaches the start date.

“There may be some logistical issues that pop up,” he said.

The district implemented a full-day kindergarten program for the 2002-03 school year under the late Vincent Capraro, the superintendent of schools who led the district from 1996 to 2006.

A bond referendum of more than $8 million was approved to construct an addition of between one and three classrooms at each elementary school for the implementation.

However, in 2010, full-day kindergarten was one of many items that were eliminated in a budget crunch when $10 million was cut in state aid. And when the budget was defeated by voters, the Township Council cut an additional $6 million.

The district has offered two half-day kindergarten sessions since then.

Bragen said state aid is based on enrollment. Currently the district has 750 students split into two half-day kindergarten sessions, or 375 students.

The district expects 1,250 students to enroll in the full-day kindergarten program in the fall, an increase of 500 students.

With an increase in enrollment, the district could potentially receive as much as a $4 million increase in state aid, Bragen said.

For more information, visit www.edison.k12.nj.us.

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