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UPSD Board Approves Full-day Kindergarten
Written by Bradley Schlegel, Staff Writer
2021-03-03

            Beginning in the fall, full-day kindergarten is coming to the Upper Perkiomen School District. Last week, the school board voted unanimously to approve a motion implementing the program for the start of the 2021-22 school year.

            The project includes a price tag of more than $1 million, including approximately $645,000 in recurring costs, according to Andrea Farina, the district's assistant superintendent. She described the program as expensive and worthwhile during her presentation at the Feb. 24 workshop meeting.

            Several members lauded their efforts to approve the action item, which was added to the meeting agenda following the presentation. President Melanie Cunningham said the decision will end up on the board's highlight reel.

            Kerry Drake described the vote as his proudest achievement on the board. He said the investment would pay off in the long run for the district. Mike Elliot, who made the motion to approve the expansion, described it as a wonderful idea. He invoked the approval as a way to honor James Glackin, a former member of the board.

            In a post on his school board Facebook page Elliot credited Glackin, who died in October of 2019, for "getting the ball rolling."  "As someone who was his friend I am overjoyed to see this come to fruition," Elliot wrote after the vote, while the meeting was still going on. "I think this is a great move for our district and will greatly benefit our students."

            Though Dana Hipszer described the expansion as an expensive proposition, he stated his desire to move forward. Melanie Cunningham and Keith McCarrick echoed Hipszer's sentiment.

            "We need to get this done," McCarrick said prior to the vote.

            Administrators estimate the cost of the expansion at $1.024 million. According to Farina, that includes $645,086 to hire up to six new teachers and fund curriculum. She said those costs would need to be incorporated into the district's annual budget deliberations.

            Prior to the vote, Superintendent Allyn Roche reminded the board that the additional expenses would need to be factored into the process. Elliot reminded the members that they needed to be smart about the finances while embracing the expansion.  "The benefits are fantastic," he said.

            Beginning in the next budget, members should expect to spend $543,086 to hire at least three classroom, and two special area teachers, according to Farina's presentation. She estimated the cost of writing new curriculum, purchasing supplies and shifting to standard-based report cards at $75,000 and the use of two new buses at an annual cost of $27,000.

            The assistant superintendent also identified a one-time cost of $379,000 to make numerous facilities enhancements and purchase new furniture for Hereford Elementary. Farina suggested that money from the district's capital account could be utilized.

            A slide lists the proposed facilities improvements which includes the installation of infill openings between existing classrooms, perform preventative maintenance on existing unit ventilators, modify above ceiling electricity to provide power for projectors, provide built-in and semi built-in casework as storage in existing classrooms and the construction of a fire barrier between the wing and the rest of the school at $99,000. It also calls for the purchase of supplies, including curriculum specific furniture for Hereford and Marlborough elementary schools, at $30,000. According to Farina, maintaining equity at the schools is a priority for administrators.

            None of the members expressed an issue with the figures. Drake identified the total as within the "reasonable realm" of what the board expected. He described it as one percent of the district's entire budget.

            Prior to the vote, Farina told the members that kindergarten registration for the next school year has already started. She said parents need to be educated on the scope of the full day program.

"Full day kindergarten can be exhausting for little people," Farina said.

 


 

 

 

 

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