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Could free taxpayer-subsidized pre-K become a thing of the past in Glen Ridge? The school district dropped a hint of the possibility in the Fall 2004 GRPS Report Card.

Pre-K is not state-mandated, except in Abbott districts, but we have always believed that it is an important part of our educational program. As with other non-mandated programs, we have maintained Pre-K even in the face of greatly reduced state aid. Now, however, our legislators have imposed severe caps on our budget, fund balance (rainy day money) and administrative expenditures. We are also faced with an impending state budget crisis that may cause our state aid to be further reduced.

In our experience, nothing gets uglier than a fight over pre-K. We know a book group that broke up years ago over whether the question of whether working mothers should get priority in getting their kids in the highly coveted a.m. pre-K slots. And rumors, over the years, of the district dropping pre-K seem to divide quite neatly over demographic lines — the demographics being who still has kids in diapers, and who doesn’t.

Our prediction: tantrums are coming. And not just from the 4-year-olds. Please weigh in.

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  1. An interesting time to have this discussion considering the evidence from the High/Scope Perry Preschool study, covered in last week’s New York Times Sunday magazine; see:
    A quote: “Preschool gave them the intellectual tools to do better in school. When they succeeded academically, they became more committed to education, and so they stayed on. Then, … a diploma opened up new economic opportunities”.
    Although the study is not directly applicable, since it focussed on less priveleged children, the hypothesis that preschool enhances the value of later education in general would be interesting to test. If it does perhaps some of the success and efficiency of the Glen Ridge schools can be attributed to the existence of preschool.

  2. All of the school funding in the Abbott districts is predicated on the assumption that the home environment of children in those districts is inherently worse than in non-Abbott districts. If you accept that rather sweeping theory, then paid-Pre-K would logically follow. So would paid afterschool care, or paid evening care for that matter.
    Glen Ridge isn’t an Abbott district so the local property owners have to pay for the schools. Ergo a compromise on *any* school program has to be reached unless you want to tax all the senior citizens out of town.
    We are finding out here that even if you never build another house or condo, the school population is going to keep going up as the seniors move out and young families move in. Unless you are careful you get a chain reaction that sweeps an entire, older, demographic segment out of town.
    “Bedroom” suburbs are being replaced by “Schoolroom” suburbs — towns that people move to almost 100% because of the public schools.

  3. I’m one of those people who moved here for the schools… god knows I wouldn’t have paid half as much for a house if it wasn’t for their high quality. I’m just hoping the schools stay good enough that someday I can sell my house for somewhere near as much as I paid.
    Plus, I’m planning on having six more kids because then my taxes will look like a bargain. 🙂

  4. In my eyes the root of the property tax problems are not the school, but the State that seems to discriminate against upper middle class towns by reducing their financial aid per student in these school systems to a minimum. Talking about the school budgets, real costs and programs are important, but we are wasting our time to find a (couple) $100 per resident savings where the state support is clearly the place where the shoe hurts. I bet that if you run the numbers there will be a clear case of income discrimination when it comes to school funding by the state. The question is whether it is constitutional to discriminate school systems based on income levels of the town residents?

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