TRENTON – Legislation sponsored by Senator Shirley K. Turner requiring full-day kindergarten in all school districts and establishing a uniform age requirement for enrollment in kindergarten cleared the Senate Education Committee today.
Full-day kindergarten programs are highly beneficial for young children, according to a recent study produced by the National Education Association. Prior to attending the first grade, full–day kindergarten programs enable young learners the chance to build a strong base of learning. Also, full-day programs enable students the chance to develop social skills, and also provide emotional and intellectual benefits. Such benefits include the ability to focus and complete activities in an orderly fashion.
“We have an obligation to ensure that all of our children in New Jersey have a solid foundation for school and life success, “said Senator Turner (D-Hunterdon/Mercer). “Kindergarten provides children with important learning and social skills and helps them to perform better academically. However, expanding the kindergarten day not only enhances early learning, it also reduces the stress and demands on working families. In this day and age, the majority of families have two, full-time, working parents who may not have the flexibility in their schedules to accommodate a half-day program. Studies show the value of full-day kindergarten and it’s time that we provide that opportunity to our children.”
The bill (SCS for S-638/S1455) would establish full-day kindergarten in all public school districts in the state. If a school district does not currently provide a full-day kindergarten program, and is designated as a district with a large concentration of at-risk students, measured by a grade of A, B, CD, DE, then the district would be required to begin offering such a program by the beginning of the 2018-2019 school year.
The second part of the bill establishes a uniform age requirement for a student to enroll in kindergarten. Under current law, each school district determines the date by which a child must attain the age of five years in order to enroll in kindergarten; districts are also allowed to enroll a child who is not yet five years old. Under the bill, a child would have to be five years old by September 1 of the school year in order to enroll in kindergarten.
The bill cleared the committee 3-1 and now heads to the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee