Keno-garten funding hasn’t moved the needle for full-day programs in these communities

Some NH communities are already decided on the issue, others have different constraints for offering full-day kindergarten programs.

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Last year, the state legalized Keno to increase funding for full-day kindergarten programs in a bill referred to as “Keno-garten.” In previous years, districts would receive half of the amount of per-student state aid (about $1,700), regardless of whether their programs were full- or half-day. Now, they receive an additional $1,100 for full-day programs from the Keno revenue. 

NHPR‘s Jason Moon asked three districts whether the additional revenue has encouraged them to offer full-day kindergarten: 

Londonderry Superintendent Scott Laliberte says making room for all those kids would take a major investment in a new building.

“For me to go out and add on eight classrooms and hire eight new teachers – we’d need a lunchroom, a gymnasium, those kinds of these things on the school.”

He says they’ve estimated it would cost Londonderry taxpayers about $6 million.

Laliberte says he appreciates that the state is offering greater support for kindergarten. But for his community, it just isn’t nearly enough to make the leap…

But what about a town that is voting on full-day kindergarten this year?

I went back to the phone and reached Steve Adler, principal of Main Street Elementary School in Exeter. Voters in that town will be weighing in on full-day kindergarten this week, and I asked him if that had anything to do with the new keno law.

“No. This decision had already been implemented prior to that. Certainly having the additional funding will be a win for us in terms of being able to support the program, but it was something that we had already felt strongly was really important for providing a quality education program for kids…”

I still wanted to find a town where the debate is ongoing, where keno might have a chance to tip the scales.

“My name is Robert Willette and I’m on the school board.”

Robert Willette is on the school board in Milford where residents will vote on a $580,000 proposal to offer full-day kindergarten for an estimated 126 kids.

Willette is against it. He says it’s not worth the money and he doesn’t think it’s the right thing for kids.

As for whether the new keno law factored in for him?

“To me, keno is not a decision maker. You know, whether we’re going to have it. What I’m really looking at is: what are we doing to the children? We’re putting five-year-olds in school for all day. And I believe they lose a lot of home life.”

Source: New Keno Money Has Little Effect On Town-Level Kindergarten Debate | NHPR