Press releases

Hillsborough Early Education Teachers Present on the Benefits of Full-Day Kindergarten

FEB 14 -- At the February 11, 2019, Hillsborough Board of Education meeting, Dr. Jorden Schiff’s Superintendent Report included a presentation by several early education teachers and administrators. The presenters discussed the changes that have occurred over the last 20 years in regards to what is expected of our youngest learners as well as the social and academic benefits a full-day kindergarten program would provide to incoming Hillsborough students. Implementation of a full-day kindergarten program is part of a March 12th referendum that will be put in front of Hillsborough voters.


The presentation was led by Dr. Lisa M. Antunes, Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum & Instruction, Dr. Mary Ann Mullady, Principal of Amsterdam Elementary School and former kindergarten teacher, and Ms. Sheila Cooper, District Supervisor of English Language Arts. Hillsborough early education teachers Mrs. Shawna Guzy, Mrs. Kelly Mehring, Mrs. Diana Nork, and Mrs. Allison Skobo discussed what they see, not only in the kindergarten classroom, but also the results of half-day program on early success in first grade.


Guzy, Mehring, Nork, and Skobo shared how Hillsborough’s current half-day program forces teachers and students to rush through a two hour and 47 minute “day.” In that short time, students must get settled, have morning meeting and calendar time, participate in phonics instruction, take part in a science or social studies class, engage in guided reading or a special class (e.g., music, art, world languages), have snack, attend math instruction as well as a reading or writing workshop, and prepare for dismissal. The teachers shared concerns that some of the most important lessons of kindergarten including social skills, problem-based learning, and inquiry and experimentation are often secondary given the short amount of time they have with students. They also voiced concern about how the expectations of what is taught in kindergarten has grown over the last 20 years and the district’s current program’s ability to meet these rigors. Guzy pointed out that in the 1990’s, students were expected to color in the lines, hold scissors and recognize 20 sight words. Nork then compared that to today’s students who are expected to decode and blend words, write a true story with a beginning, a middle, and an end, as well as recognize 65 sight words.


The full-day kindergarten that Hillsborough Schools is proposing does not focus strictly on increasing the academic program of a half-day program. As Skobo described, Hillsborough’s full-day class would allow for increased time for physical activity, enhanced sensory development, and greater exploration of creative expression. Students would have a greater opportunity to navigate physical, cognitive, social, emotional and language growth development activities.


If the March 12th referendum is approved by voters, full-day kindergarten would be implemented for the start of the 2019-2020 school year. The program would be held at all six elementary schools in the district. Implementation expenses include staff, supplies, training, technology, transportation costs, and the lease of modular classrooms to be used for offices and/or specialty classrooms. This would allow for additional kindergarten classrooms to be set-up in the school buildings.


Also included in this referendum is a long-term plan for funding financial stability. Hillsborough Schools’ yearly budget is limited by a two percent tax cap. Over the last several years, the district has been forced to use a portion of its fund balance to cover costsoutside of the district’s control that continue to exceed this two percent limit. Financial concerns were compounded this summer when the state of New Jersey announced it would reduce state aid to Hillsborough Township Public Schools by $5.34 million dollars over the next six years. A full-day kindergarten program will also support financial stability as the state aid formula calculates funding full day kindergarten programs at twice the amount as a half day kindergarten program.  


The kindergarten presentation, as well as all previous presentations related to the upcoming March 12, 2019, referendum are available on the district’s website. Additional information on the referendum can be found on the site as well.










February 19th Is Deadline For Voter Registration For School Referendum


FEB 11 -- Hillsborough residents who are not currently registered to vote are reminded that the deadline to register to vote in the upcoming March 12, 2019, school referendum is February 19, 2019. Residents will be asked to vote on Hillsborough Township Public Schools’ plan to invest in the future of the district by implementing a full-day kindergarten program as well as assisting the Board in laying out a plan for long-term financial stability.


To obtain a voter registration form, please visit the New Jersey Division of Elections website. If a voter is uncertain if he/she is registered to vote, this information may also be confirmed via the website. Additional information regarding voting by mail may be obtained on the New Jersey Division of Elections website as well. If a voter has previously requested a mail-in ballot and is uncertain if he/she will be receiving one for this special school board election, please contact the Somerset County Clerk’s office at (908) 231-7013.


Sample ballots will be mailed to all registered voters on March 6, 2019. Please check the ballot for the designated polling location as it may be different from previously held state and federal elections.


Some important dates to keep in mind for this upcoming referendum vote include:

February 19, 2019 -- Voter registration deadline

March 5, 2019 -- Deadline to apply for a mail-in ballot by mail

March 11, 2019 -- Deadline to apply for a mail-in ballot in person (may be done until 3:00 p.m. on the day before the election at the County Clerk’s office)

March 12, 2019 -- Referendum Date

March 12, 2019 -- Deadline for post office receipt of mail-in ballots as well as deadline for in-person submission (by 8:00 p.m. at the County Clerk’s office)


Additional details and referendum information are available on the district website at www.htps.us. Please remember to vote on Tuesday, March 12, 2018.









Hillsborough Board of Education To Send Referendum to Local Voters in March

JAN 8 -- At the first Hillsborough Board of Education meeting of 2019, members of the Board authorized a referendum to be placed on the ballot for Hillsborough voters on March 12. Residents will be asked to vote on Hillsborough Township Public Schools’ plan to invest in the future of the district by implementing a full-day kindergarten program as well as assisting the Board in laying out a plan for long-term financial stability.


If approved by voters, the referendum will result in a 2019 property tax increase of about $25/month on the average Hillsborough home valued at $389,300. This is equal to approximately $6/month for every $100,000 of assessed home value. This tax estimate is based on the November 2018 ratables. The finalized tax rate will be based on the Township’s February 2019 ratables which have yet to be released.


The referendum put forth will ask voters to authorize spending $8.09 million to implement a full-day kindergarten program and provide for a long-term financial stability plan for Hillsborough Township Public Schools.


Hillsborough is one of three districts in Somerset County that only offers a half-day kindergarten program. Approximately, 90 percent of districts in New Jersey have a full day kindergarten. Meeting the State Standards for kindergarten are much more challenging in a half day versus a full day program. More information and research on the benefits of a full day kindergarten program can be found on the district’s Investing in Our Future section of the website.


If approved by voters, the full-day kindergarten would be implemented for the start of the 2019-2020 school year. The program would be held at all six elementary schools in the district. Implementation expenses include staff, supplies, training, technology, transportation costs, and the lease of modular classrooms to be used for offices and/or specialty classrooms. This would allow for additional kindergarten classrooms to be set-up in the school buildings.


Also included in this referendum is a long-term plan for funding financial stability. Hillsborough Schools’ yearly budget is limited by a two percent tax cap. Over the last several years, the district has been forced to use a portion of its fund balance to cover costs outside of the district’s control that continue to exceed this two percent limit. Financial concerns were compounded this summer when the state of New Jersey announced it would reduce state aid to Hillsborough Township Public Schools by $5.34 million dollars over the next six years. A full-day kindergarten program will also support financial stability as the state aid formula calculates funding full day kindergarten programs at twice the amount as a half day kindergarten program.  


If not passed, Hillsborough Schools would need to consider reducing teachers and staff and increasing class sizes. The district would also be forced to contemplate increasing fees for students to participate in athletics and co-curricular activities, raising fees for technology, and eliminating programs that the Board could no longer afford. Reductions would continue in future years as state aid is reduced $5.34 million dollars over the next six years.


Additional details and referendum information is available on the district website at www.htps.us. Please remember to vote on Tuesday, March 12, 2018.












 


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