Tonight, the Board of Aldermen will discuss an appropriation of $594,000 to fully fund all-day kindergarten in the Melrose Public Schools.
Every child in Melrose should have the opportunity to attend full-day kindergarten. Children who attend a full-day program are better prepared for first grade, and I do not want any child to miss out on this essential experience.
Like most communities, we charge a fee for all-day kindergarten, and therefore we only get half the state aid for for those students that we would get if there were no fee. If we offer kindergarten for free, we will receive full aid for those students. The catch is that we have offer full-day kindergarten at no cost to parents for one year before that additional state aid can kick in.
That means a one-time investment of over $500,000. This year, we have an unusual combination of factors that allows us to make that investment: We had almost no snow, which means our spending on snow removal is far below what we expected, and we had an unusually modest increase in health insurance premiums for our employees. In addition, we will be spending somewhat less on capital improvements as we shift to a year of assessment and planning for the future before embarking on new projects. These three factors allow us a one-time opportunity to fully fund kindergarten for the 2012-13 school year, after which these students will become eligible for full state aid under our Chapter 70 formula.
I have received words of support from many of you—including many whose children are past kindergarten age—and I firmly believe that this is the right thing to do for our children. If this passes, Melrose will be the only community among our peers to have accomplished this goal. That is an important investment in our children, our home values, and our community as a whole.