I am pleased to report that the full day kindergarten proposal was passed by the East Penn school board Monday, by a vote to 6-3. It will be implemented next year. The approval caps almost two full years of planning, discussion, and debate on the issue. Ken Bacher, Alisa Bowman, Alan Earnshaw, and Paul Champagne joined me in voting in favor of the measure. Carol Allen, Chris Donatelli, and Chuck Ballard voted against it.
I'm sorry to report that the final debate over the issue was much more acrimonious than previous ones. Supporters of full day kindergarten were accused of lacking honor, and of being underhanded. I was called out by name as making "material misstatements of fact," which is of course a euphemism for lying. I stand by everything I have said about full day kindergarten, by the way.
Like many contentious issues, there were persuasive arguments on both sides here. I believe the advantages of full day kindergarten outweigh some (perfectly valid) concerns about it. I greatly appreciate all the feedback the board received from the public on both sides of the issue.
Media coverage of the meeting:
Do you want to stay in the loop on what is happening in our school district? If so, please sign up for my shiny new text message system (it also works with email, if you prefer). I'll let you know when there is important information or news you should know. You can sign up by simply texting @zm4epsd to 81010 or 610-816-6523 from your phone, or by visiting https://www.remind.com/join/zm4epsd.
Why am I doing this? I've had lots of discussions with community members over the last two months about the possibility of full day kindergarten in our district. People have shared many different opinions, but everyone I've spoken to has agreed they wished there was a way to learn about these kinds of issues before the decisions were already made. I've asked everyone I've spoken to how I might help keep the community better informed, and offering text alerts was one suggestion I received. So I'm going to try it out!
I understand that many people have busy lives, do not necessarily use social media regularly, and don't have time to keep up with blogs and newsletters. Short text updates are the perfect way to keep on top of school issues without having to bother with all of these things.
And here is some fine print: I promise not to spam you with lots of messages, probably no more than 1-3 per month and often less. I'm using the same system that many teachers use to keep in touch with students and parents. It allows text messages without ever directly sharing telephone numbers. You can also easily start or stop the alerts at any time. Please keep in mind too that I am offering this as a service to the community, as your elected school board representative. The texts (and my opinions) are my own, and don't necessarily reflect the official position of the school board or the East Penn School District. There is no charge for this service, but obviously regular text and data rates of your phone plan may apply.
And for those of you who don't already know, I also share regular updates about the district via my blog, Facebook, and Twitter.
So sign up for text alerts right now by texting @zm4epsd to 610-816-6523 or by visiting https://www.remind.com/join/zm4epsd. If you know someone else who might benefit from this too, you can print the instruction sheet below to share with them. Let me know how you like how it does (or doesn't) work!
The East Penn School Board will again consider two proposals on full day kindergarten at their meeting on Monday. The first calls for implementation of the full day kindergarten plan, which was developed over the last two years by a special committee made up of educators, parents, and administrators. The second calls for a public referendum on full day kindergarten and sets a ceiling on the costs permitted for such a program.
Both of these proposals have been raised before. The former was defeated by a previous board in a 4-5 vote in October. The second was raised at a November board meeting, but there weren't even two board members who wanted to discuss it and therefore did not come to a vote.
I have been a vocal supporter of the full day kindergarten proposal. I voted yes on the proposal the first time around, and plan to do so again at Monday's meeting. I believe that the plan before the board is well designed, that it is needed in our community, that research shows that it will be beneficial, and that its benefits outweigh its costs. I have discussed all of these issues in a collection of short blog posts and videos that you can access (and share) at: https://munson4eastpenn.org/fulldayk
If you would like to speak to the board about full day kindergarten, you may do so during the public comment period held at the beginning of the meeting on Monday, December 11, at 7:30pm, in the board room at 800 Pine St. in Emmaus.