EVESHAM – Evesham Township Mayor Jaclyn Veasy and the Township Council are calling on all New Jersey State Legislators to support funding in the 2022 budget year to enable all school districts of New Jersey to offer free full-day kindergarten programs.
Currently, 10% of New Jersey school districts are unable to provide their families with free full-day kindergarten, leaving students in these districts with only half-day programs. .
Currently, the only way for these school districts to expand their half-day programs into full-day programs for students is to charge families additional tuition, typically in excess of thousands of dollars for a given year. This is on top of the school taxes these families already pay.
These unnecessary tuition fees present additional financial stress for parents who cannot afford to pay.
“As Mayor of the Township of Evesham, and with the full support of the Township Council behind me, we urge state decision makers to develop a statewide plan to fund K-12 programs. tuition-free full-time in every district in the state,” Mayor Jaclyn Veasy said. “We must eliminate this educational disparity and give all children equal access to early learning and the same potential for growth.”
Evesham Township School District is one such district that is unable to offer free full-time kindergarten.
And yet, in recent years, the district has actually lost millions of dollars in state aid every year.
During the 2017-2018 school year, ETSD received approximately $13.6 million in state aid. In this current 2021-2022 school year, that figure had dropped to about $9 million in aid each year. And that number, he still expects to drop by several million over the next few years.
The decline comes as the state continues to report a record funding surplus.
“As a parent, I’m acutely aware of the value of a consistent education, and as an elected official, I’m even more aware of the positive impact a strong education system has on a healthy community.” said Deputy Mayor Heather Cooper. “Most importantly, a student’s learning and social and emotional support benefits our community as a whole. It is essential that every student in our city has the best educational opportunities at the earliest possible age. As a taxpayer and resident, education should be fair regardless of the city in which you decide to live and raise a family. Education funding disparities place an undue burden on the taxpayer at a time when our education system is needed as we emerge from the longest running public health crisis. We urge our state legislatures to re-evaluate the funding formula so that all schools can address the lack of full-day kindergartens.
Research comparing half-day and full-day kindergarten shows that children benefit from a developmentally appropriate full-day program, particularly in terms of early academic achievement, which would help circumvent later needs for remediation or repetition in later years.
Mayor Veasy and council also approved a formal resolution calling for these funding changes at their March 23 council meeting, and they also sent letters seeking the support of Senator Jean Stanfield (Evesham’s representative in the Senate of State) and neighboring Representative Senator Troy Singleton, as well as Senator Paul Sarlo (Chairman of the Budget and Appropriations Committee) and Senator Vin Gopal (Chairman of the Education Committee).