Two Northern Westchester Districts Consider Full-Day Kindergarten

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Most Westchester school districts have full-day kindergarten.
Most Westchester school districts have full-day kindergarten. Photo Credit: Chappaqua Central School District

WESTCHESTER COUNTY, N.Y. – The Yorktown Central and Katonah-Lewisboro school districts are the only two in Westchester that don’t have full-day kindergarten, and both may change that for the 2014-2015 school year.

The Katonah-Lewisboro School District made full-day kindergarten a priority before the start of the current school year. Yorktown began looking into the change in October. Its renewed push follows an unsuccessful attempt to implement full-day kindergarten in 2006, when residents voted down the proposal because of the costs of addition personnel and expanded facilities.

This go around, Dr. Ralph Napolitano has said the district has plenty of usable space because enrollment has declined “dramatically” since 2006. As a result, he has said implementing full-day kindergarten would be cost neutral.

In the last 10 years, Yorktown Central’s enrollment has dropped by between 600 and 700 students, Assistant Superintendent for Business Thomas Cole said at the school board's Jan. 14 meeting.

Katonah-Lewisboro has lost more than 700 students in just six years, which is why it says it plans to close one of its four elementary schools in the fall.

Many parents opposed to closing Lewisboro Elementary have said that full-day kindergarten will likely attract more families to the district. Katonah-Lewisboro School Superintendent Paul Kreutzer has said he agrees. But, he said that even if home sales increased significantly for several years, the district would still struggle to maintain a flat enrollment number.

Before voting in the majority to close Lewisboro Elementary Thursday night, Board Member Stephanie Tobin said the trade-off for full-day kindergarten is cutting other recurring expenses. Closing Lewisboro Elementary is estimated to save the district $1.7 million annually. 

The Yorktown PTSA will hold a district-wide information meeting on full-day kindergarten at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 29 in the middle school cafeteria. The school board will then hold a public forum in February with a date yet to be posted.

By then, the district administration expects to have the results of a demographic study showing enrollment projections looking ahead 10 years, as well as a capacity study for each of the schools. This will tell them what the utilization rates are now and what they’re expected to be during the next 10 years, Cole said.

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