N.J. looks at possibility of requiring full-day kindergarten

 A bill creating a task force to study the feasibility of implementing full-day programs statewide will come up for a vote in the N.J. Senate Monday. (Mel Evans/AP photo, file)

A bill creating a task force to study the feasibility of implementing full-day programs statewide will come up for a vote in the N.J. Senate Monday. (Mel Evans/AP photo, file)

About a hundred school districts in New Jersey now offer only a half-day of kindergarten. But the state is weighing the possibility of changing those programs to a full day.

A bill creating a task force to study the feasibility of implementing full-day programs statewide will come up for a vote in the state Senate Monday.

The 21-member task force would study a variety of issues including the academic impact of full-day kindergarten, staffing needs, and class size, according to state Sen. Teresa Ruiz, who chairs the Senate Education Committee.

“The underlying and most prominent issue will be where can we create a better funding mechanism because obviously it will cost more of an investment,” said Ruiz, D-Essex.

Kids learn more in full-day kindergarten, and some children don’t go to half-day sessions because that doesn’t accommodate their parents’ work schedules, said Steven Barnett, director of the National Institute for Early Education Research at Rutgers.

Barnett said some of the additional costs of full-day programs would be offset by not having to provide separate transportation for half-day students.

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