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Skaneateles to start full-day kindergarten

The Skaneateles school district has made a big change in how it will educate its five-year-olds.

The Skaneateles Board of Education voted 7-0 to switch to full-day kindergarten starting with the 2013 to 2014 school year at its meeting Tuesday, Feb. 12.

The board made the decision after hearing a report on the new statewide Common Core Learning Standards at its Jan. 22 meeting and a report on how the change would affect scheduling, staff and the budget at its Feb. 12 meeting.

Depending on the size of next year’s incoming class of kindergarteners, the district will hire either one or two new kindergarten teachers, to go along with the three they currently employ, interim superintendent Judy Pastel said.

Despite needing to hire new employees, the change could actually save the district money, Assistant Superintendent for Business and Finance Dale Bates said. The district will be able to reduce its staff, through attrition, by eliminating the need for one full-time music teacher and one part-time art teacher. This will be possible by consolidating staff and making the teachers’ schedules more efficient including having some of the specials teachers work at both the Waterman and State Street schools, Bates said.

There is also a one-time grant available from New York State of $186,636 for schools that switch to full-day kindergarten. That money will go into the school’s general fund for the 2014 to 2015 budget, Bates said.

If the district hires one new teacher, it will save $73,000 in its budget for staff and if it hires two new teachers it will cost an additional $9,700, Pastel said. The change will also reduce costs, because it will eliminate the need for midday busing, which will save the district $37,434 each year, she said.

Also from the meeting:

-- Chuck Bastian a financial consultant of Bernard Donovan Inc. presented the board a draft of a financial plan for its upcoming facilities improvements project. The draft included several different scenarios for financing of the project.

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