State awards city $1M grant for all-day kindergarten expansion
State awards city $1M grant for all-day kindergarten expansion
Posted on 11/24/2014
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WEST HAVEN, Nov. 24, 2014 — The state Bond Commission awarded the city a $1 million grant Wednesday to help expand full-day kindergarten in West Haven Public Schools, Mayor Edward M. O’Brien and Superintendent of Schools Neil C. Cavallaro announced.

The funding was initiated by O’Brien in a collaborative effort with the West Haven Board of Education and was made possible by the state Department of Education and state Sen. Gayle Slossberg, D-Milford.

“When I ran for office more than a year ago, I promised the residents of West Haven that I would fight for all-day kindergarten in every elementary school,” O’Brien said. “Thanks to this state grant award, we are a giant step closer to providing every child with the opportunity to attend all-day kindergarten in our school district.”

The school district currently has all-day kindergarten at Savin Rock Community School and is starting the program Dec. 1 at Forest Elementary School. The goal is to expand the program to the four other public elementary schools, which still have half-day kindergarten, in the near term.

The grant will finance school upgrades to prepare classrooms for kindergartners at all elementary schools over an extended time period, as the remaining four schools implement the program. Officials continue to discuss sources of additional, permanent funding still needed for salaries for a districtwide full-day kindergarten program.

“I’m really proud of the progress our early childhood education team has made this year with regard to bringing all-day kindergarten programs to Savin Rock and Forest. We’re thrilled this funding has been approved so we can prepare additional kindergarten classrooms in our elementary schools,” Cavallaro said. “Twenty-first-century learning standards necessitate the implementation of full-day kindergarten classes, so this has been a long-term goal of ours that we believe will have a significant impact on West Haven youngsters.”

The $1 million will be used for one-time expenditures, such as kindergarten furniture, supplies and technology and outfitting existing rooms for smaller students. Minor renovation work will include lowering classroom counters and sinks and providing smaller desks and chairs.

The grant, submitted in June, was written by Assistant Superintendent Anne P. Druzolowski, Early Childhood Coordinator Stefania Larry and school board Finance Director Matthew Cavallaro, with contributions from city Grants Writer Eileen M. Krugel.

As detailed in the grant application, the kindergarten curriculum was recently redesigned to better prepare students for first grade. Kindergarten teachers focus specifically on fundamental reading and mathematics skills while incorporating science and social studies concepts in a way that is appropriate for young learners.

A full-day schedule allows kindergarten teachers to delve more deeply into the curriculum and to better identify and address students’ specific learning needs, according to Druzolowski and Larry.

Officials thanked Slossberg, an advocate of all-day kindergarten, for securing the grant.

“Full-day kindergarten sets our children on a course for lifelong learning successes,” Slossberg said in a statement. “These critical funds will help implement full-day kindergarten in West Haven. We all understand the importance of full-day kindergarten, and every child in West Haven deserves a quality kindergarten experience. I appreciate the Governor’s support and have been delighted to have worked with the Mayor and Commissioner of Education on bringing this top priority of mine to fruition.”