Full Day Kindergarten
After voting it down for the 2016 school year, the Avon Grove School Board approved Full Day Kindergarten (FDK) for implementation in 2017. To launch FDK modular classrooms were installed at Penn London Elementary and spending increases by $4.6 million over 5 years that is to be offset by reducing the enrollment of Avon Grove School District children (and funding) at the Avon Grove Charter School.
Avon Grove Charter School (AGCS) has offered full day kindergarten for a number of years while the main school system offered a half-day program. Both are public schools and are allocated a portion of the available funding based on enrollment though AGCS is provided approximately 70% of the funding per student of what is retained by the main school system. In 2016-17 the Avon Grove School District's half-day program had 234 students enrolled and the AGCS full-day kindergarten program had approximately 114 students enrolled who live in the Avon Grove School District. With the introduction of FDK at AGSD for 2017-18 the initial reports are that 300 students have enrolled in the new program and 81 students (residing in the AGSD) have enrolled at AGCS for kindergarten. This seems to validate the assumption that some parents would choose the main school system for full day kindergarten over AGCS given the opportunity. The main schools gained approximately 66 kindergarten students and the AGCS enrollment was reduced by 33 AGSD residing kindergarten students from 2016-17. The overall enrollment at the main Avon Grove School system increased by 47 students when enrollment is compared from September 2016 to September 2017. So where did these extra students come from? It is likely that many of the "new" students otherwise might have attended private kindergarten, daycare or made other arrangements at considerable cost to the parents in lieu of the public FDK option now available. The majority of these students would have come into our public school system at 1st grade anyway so the increase in enrollment only appears because students are being brought into the public system a year earlier than they would have already appeared.
When the new FDK program was being considered the administration made the claim that the cost of the program would be offset by reducing the enrollment of Avon Grove School District residing students attending AGCS by over half if AGSD also offered full-day kindergarten. Early in the school year Avon Grove Charter School provided an update to the Avon Grove School board via a presentation at a board meeting. When the presentation from 2016 is compared against the presentation from 2017 it appears that the total enrollment at AGCS has actually increased. It remains to be seen if the cost savings predicted to make FDK cost neutral will appear. In the 2019-20 school budget, tuition for Charter schools was increased by $990,656. Despite promises that the charter school tuition costs would stabilize or decrease due to the implementation of Full Day Kindergarten, it is rising in 2019-20 budget. This additional cost is due to 34 students attending the charter school during the 2018-19 school year of which 17 were new students and 17 were pre-existing students at the charter school but their families have now moved into the AG school district.
Taxpayers will now have to pay the additional costs associated with Full Day Kindergarten including 6 new modular classrooms, salaries and benefits for 8 full time teachers, teaching supplies as well as the increase in tuition for AG charter schools, and the additional funds needed to build new school facilities. Once again there seems to be an attitude that the supply of tax dollars from the community is limitless.