Oswego State education students partner with Leighton Elementary …

In a program that exchanges resources for experience, Oswego State education students are partnering with Leighton Elementary students for a more hands-on teaching experience.

“Everyone in the building is just as passionate about working with kids and helping them succeed as I am, so it’s a very welcoming and friendly environment for all staff,” education major Jessica Kennedy said. “At Leighton they really try to make the community feel like a second home.”

This program is called the Leighton Community Classroom program. Oswego State students attend class in Leighton Elementary, a class taught by special education teacher, Linda Stummer. The students are learning special education to help children with disabilities in their classrooms enter the general education curriculum.

“All students have special needs,” Stummer said. “Special education is providing a gateway and accessibility so all students have the opportunity to take part in the general education curriculum.”

After Oswego State students are finished attending Stummer’s class, at 9 a.m., they go to their classrooms where they receive hands-on experiences teaching the elementary school students at Leighton.

“I wanted to become an education major with the goal to become a special education teacher,” said Madisyn Walsh, an education major at Oswego State. “Early intervention for young elementary school children with disabilities is so important and growing up with an older brother with autism really gave me a first-hand look at what kind of positive impacts early intervention and special education teachers have on children with disabilities.”

This program is not only open to Oswego State students; it is also open to Oswego State professors.

“College professors are learning a bunch, classroom teachers are learning a lot,” said Christine Walsh, a visiting assistant professor director. “The children get a lot more one-to-one attention. College students are really benefiting because they are in the classroom a lot more than a lot of other students.”

This program is an exchange in which Oswego State students receive experience and their own classroom while the school receives supplies such as desks, chairs and technology.

Oswego State students have a competitive advantage over their peers for having done this program because not all schools offer this kind of program, according to Walsh.

“This program allows me to become acclimated in the school community,” said Rachel Hoenings, an Oswego State student. “It helps me by allowing me to have a better relationship with my host teacher and the students in the class. I am not just a visitor in the classroom I am considered an important part of the classroom.”

The result of having extra hands in the classroom has been improving Leighton from a focus school, a school that is identified by New York State as being a school with low academic performance, to being placed off the focus school’s list.

According to Walsh, the program will lead to higher test scores and better opportunities for the students to get ahead.

“Having [Oswego State students] in Leighton classrooms raises the level of professionalism in the school building because their learning and their questions about the practice of teaching helps us all take a closer look at the teaching and learning process,” Walsh said. “It’s another adult to connect with individual children in the classroom as we meet increasing academic, social and emotional needs.”

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Wilton explores new way to fully fund special education

  • Superintendent of Schools Kevin Smith Photo: Hearst Connecticut Media File



WILTON — As the town faces the prospect of losing more than $800,000 in special education funding for the 2017-18 school year, Superintendent of Schools Kevin Smith is looking into a plan that proposes 100 percent reimbursement.

That plan is the Special Education Predictable Cost Cooperative — a financial system that would aggregate contributions from the state and participating towns. Each town would make a community contribution to the Co-op based on their enrollment of special education students, past special educations costs and an equity adjustment based on the municipality’s ability to pay.

Currently, Connecticut is one of four states without a system for funding nearly 75,000 students who require some special education services, according to Connecticut School Finance Project, the nonprofit that developed the idea of the Co-op.

Since 1996, special education funding has been included within the Education Cost Sharing formula, which a Superior Court Judge Thomas Moukawsher struck down as “irrational” and “unconstitutional” in September. Under Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s proposal for the biennial fiscal year 2018-19 budget, state special education funding would be funneled from the existing ECS formula as a new standalone grant.

“The challenge that our district faces and that all districts here in the state face is really a structural problem rooted in the high level of volatility of costs year over year of (special education) at the local level,” Smith said. “So it would be an opportunity for our districts and other districts, if the model is sound, to really better predict and manage our yearly special education costs.”

Smith heard about the Co-op from its lead developer, Katie Roy, director and founder of CT School, which she formed in 2015 to identify solutions to the state’s school funding system.

The two recently met to discuss the model in more detail and were scheduled to meet again Friday with other superintendents from lower Fairfield County.

With the district spending 20 to 25 percent of the overall school budget on special education, and having to periodically draw from non-special education lines to cover cost overruns, Smith said the model is “very attractive.”

According to Roy, Smith isn’t the only district leader who’s expressed interest in learning more about the Co-op.

Since developing the idea in January 2016, Roy said she and her team have met with various superintendent associations and more than 100 district leaders, including those in Westport, Weston, Stamford, and are in the process of trying to schedule a meeting with Norwalk leaders.

Roy believes every district would benefit from the Co-op, regardless of size or town wealth.

“In addition to benefiting from the greater cost predictability the Co-op provides, all communities will receive some state support for special education services and all communities’ contributions will be lower than their actual per pupil special education costs,” she said. “… the Co-op stabilizes general education funding and helps ensure districts don’t have to resort to dipping into their general education funding to pay for necessary special education services.”

The Co-op would be owned and governed by its members, and a board of directors made up of representatives from member school districts, local governments, and state government would oversee its operations. Other important details have yet to be hammered out, including when towns would need to pay their community contribution.

Although the Co-op is still in its early development stages, the idea is gaining traction in the General Assembly.

State Sens. Carlo Leone, D-Stamford, and Timothy Larson, D-East Hartford, recently introduced a bill that would establish the Co-op to fund special education services and special education program, with state Reps. Ezequiel Santiago, D-Bridgeport, and Josh Elliott, D-Hamden, as co-sponsors.

The bill, Senate Bill 542, was referred to the Insurance and Real Estate Committee in late January and a public hearing was held on Feb. 21. State Rep. Gail Lavielle, R-Wilton, testified at the hearing, raising a number of questions about the specifics of the Co-op and how 100 percent reimbursement would be guaranteed to every participating district.

“This is certainly a good effort, but I can’t vouch for it right now because we need to do a lot more work with it,” Lavielle said. “But I will say this: the governor’s current proposal … is not a satisfactory approach in any way.”

“Our current system is better than that, but our current system has a lot of problems,” she added. “Any new proposal is welcome, but we need to go into it with great detail.”

Smith agreed, and said he has a few questions himself, about the reliability of state funding and the differences in expenses when comparing different areas. But he believes the model ultimately has potential to help Wilton and other districts.

“The model itself looks promising, and I think if they can deliver on what they say what the model would do, then it would be a win for all communities,” Smith said.

“Is Connecticut ready for it? I don’t know if I’m in the position to say that. But I do know as we’re looking at significant reductions in state aid, we have to do something.”

Smith said he will discuss the Co-op in greater detail with the district’s business operations committee in the upcoming weeks and later with the Board of Education in the spring.

SKim@hearstmediact.com; 203-354-1044; @stephaniehnkim

Northern Buildings Being Renovated

    Students attending Northern New Mexico College will have a new, renovated space to take care of their academic business, beginning in School Year 2017-2018.

    Crews from Albuquerque-based Facility Build, are working on the second phase of an infrastructure upgrade project aimed at improving student services.

    Northern President Rick Bailey said when construction is finished, students will have a new, centralized space where they can access the services they need to help them succeed.

    “The idea is that we wanted a place dedicated to student services,” he said. “As Andy (Romero, facilities supervisor) said, ‘A one-stop shop for student services.’”

    Student Senate President Ariadne Bito said she is pleased the administration is working on making the institution more student-friendly.

    “I think it’s great that they are doing upgrades on student services,” she said. “Although they are doing a great job at the moment, of taking care of students, I think it’s very necessary to keep upgrading services, especially since our school will start the construction of dorms in the near future.”

    Romero said the new space will have a larger financial aid office, an advisement portal and a testing center.

    Before crews started work on the new student services wing located in the southwest corner of Northern’s Joseph Montoya Building, they tackled the project’s first phase.

    That phase included converting the old financial aid office into a space for computer support workers.

    “We reconfigured the financial aid office,” he said. “It was open and we made them into IT (Information Technology) offices,” he said. “Then the financial aid office got an uplift of floors, carpets and walls.”

    The contractor is also working on upgrading the heating, ventilation and cooling system on both, the Montoya Building and gymnasium.

    Romero said the idea is to replace the older model hydronic heating and cooling system, which relied on fluid to transfer the heat­, with liquid-less system combo units. The combo units are designed to handle both, heating and cooling, and they run off of air and electricity, as opposed to water.

    The facility supervisor said the new system comes complete with safeguards to help prevent a costly disaster, such as freezing pipes. He and his team have scheduled the two-combo unit housed on top of the buildings, to run on different cycles.

    “If the boiler goes down and no one is home and the pipes freeze, you got a disaster,” Romero said. “This other way, the combo unit has a furnace that runs off air and the X-coil runs the air condition. The way we schedule them is if one fails, we still have some heat on them.”

    Romero said repairing and cleaning up after a busted water line can be both, costly and time consuming. The last time a water line froze, it cost the College a hefty amount of money.

    “These types of issues can set the College back hundreds of thousands of dollars,” he said. “We have had an incident like this happen within the last 10 years. One of the pipes busted during the Christmas break and the water flowed from the top floor to the bottom floor. We had a major problem.”

    Workers are also poised to begin work on the General Education Building, to renovate the mens and womens restrooms, as well as other upgrades.

    Romero estimates that the work will cost the institution about $500,000, which will come out of the revenue generated from a  2014 General Obligation Bond. The Bond netted Northern nearly $2 million.

    Besides the upgrades that are currently underway, Northern officials used part of that revenue to pour and repair sidewalks throughout the campus, remove asbestos, repair roofs and improve drainage capabilities.

    Voters approved another General Obligation Bonds during the November 2016 General Election. College officials have not yet decided how they will use the $1 million they expect to receive from that Bond.

Seychelles Recognized As World Leader in Early Childhood Care and Education

The recognition of Seychelles as a world leader in best practices in Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) is the result of good programming and hard work in the education sector, said a top official of the local Institute of Early Childhood Development (IECD).

Shirley Choppy, the executive officer of the IECD, told SNA that this result relates to the fact that the institute is doing a great job of nurturing and ensuring strong development in children.

“We at IECD have contributed immensely in terms of programming and education. We have developed a comprehensive structure for child minding to ensure consistency across all establishments,” said Choppy.

Seychelles, a group of 115 islands in the western Indian Ocean, has been recognised by the International Bureau of Education (IBE) of UNESCO for its leading role among the ‘General Education Quality Assessment Framework’ (GEQAF) countries. These also include Botswana, Egypt, Gabon, India, Oman, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Swaziland and Azerbaijan.

The island nation recently signed an agreement with the IBE-UNESCO through which Seychelles will share its expertise with other countries in the setting up of their ECCE structure.

Early last month, Seychelles hosted the first international ECCE conference under the theme ‘Building Resilient Early Childhood Care and Education Systems: Lessons of Experience.’

At the opening of the conference, the director general of UNESCO, Irina Bokova, said, “Since 2010, Seychelles, a best practice champion, has worked all out to increase and enhance ECCE to share for the benefit of all, notably through South-South collaboration and working with the IBE-UNESCO.”

Vice-President Vincent Meriton spoke on the importance of ECCE and roles played by different stakeholders in the development of the children and the important work done by President Danny Faure, the former chair of the local ECCE.

“Believing that early education is the solid foundation that sets up a society, Faure’s commitment to the development of our children has been apparent, while addressing the first Unesco World Conference held in Moscow in 2010,” Meriton Said.

At the Moscow Conference, Faure pledged his and Seychelles support to implement the Moscow Framework for Action and Cooperation which the delegates adopted. The Moscow Framework calls upon all member countries to adopt a broad and holistic approach to Early Childhood Care and Education for all children between 0 to 8 years of age.

This was followed by a national framework on ECCE in 2011 and the setting up of the Institute of Early Childhood Development 2012 said the vice-president.

The director of IBE-UNESCO Mmantsetsa Marope said that at the last ECCE conference in 2015, she called on Seychelles to transform this institutionalised event into an international biennial.

“As would be expected, it (Seychelles) stepped up to affirm its leadership. This is a milestone achievement for ECCE development and a proud moment for Seychelles. We call on other countries to follow their lead: to develop resilient ECCE systems to give each and every child a fair chance at holistic development,” said Marope.

A plaque was handed over during the conference by Marope to Choppy and Mondon, recognizing Seychelles, as the best practice hub for early child care and education.

Marope added that Seychelles is on a decisive and comprehensive route to build up more resilience in its ECCE system and said that “we have the same power to make a difference.”

She said that ECCE services are poor even in rich countries as there is a lack of know-how on the way to use the system.

Although it is a small island state, Marope brings to the forth that Seychelles is providing example that will help other countries to establish their ECCE system.

“Be it financially or intellectually, Seychelles should be proud for the amount of work they are doing,” Marope said.

Seychelles has made a voluntary contribution of $30,0000 to the IBE to help them in their various functions.

Educators should be given the skills to help all students | Editorial

Studies increasingly show that children with disabilities who are integrated into general education classrooms fare better than their peers in non-inclusive classrooms.

Not only to do these students get more instructional time, but they also are absent less frequently, and have proven more successful in post-secondary settings.

Students without disabilities also benefit from inclusionary classrooms: The interactions help build positive relations and friendships, and the normally-abled youngsters learn to be more at ease with people of all kinds.

Educators and school administrators know this, and have become comfortable with placing students with and without disabilities in the same classrooms.

But as positive as this trend is, there’s one area where the system breaks down, NJSpotlight reports.

Teacher training has failed to keep up with the new reality, leaving general-education teachers ill-equipped to handle the needs of the wider variety of students.

“It’s not just getting a child included … that is only a small portion of the battle,” said Mike Flom of Allendale, co-founder of the advocacy group New Jersey Parents and Teachers for Appropriate Education and the father of seventh-grade twin daughters.

New rules for private schools will hurt disabled kids, critics say

Although he praised the motivation of the girls’ teachers in a disabled-inclusive classroom, he was concerned that they had not had enough training to handle the multiple challenges.

And indeed, NJSpotlight notes, many teachers’ ed programs offer only one class about students with disabilities to general-education majors.

It’s a step, but not nearly enough to provide them with the tools to engage a roomful of students ranging from those with IQs in the stratosphere to those who struggle to read at grade level.

Two teachers in Bloomfield told the news outlet they wished teacher-education programs would include in the curriculum such matters as the different kinds of disabilities they were likely to encounter in their classes, and how to address the varied challenges with which their students grappled.

To be sure, some universities in the state have already incorporated such lessons.

Montclair State University students can receive a dual certification – special education and subject-level or grade-level range – which allows them to be hired in either capacity.

Also available at Montclair: a laudable program called iSTeM, geared to future teachers of science, technology engineering and math who will work in inclusionary classrooms.

One challenge, of course, is making sure all efforts are made to help not only tomorrow’s teachers, but also those who are already in the classroom, no matter how long they’ve been in the field.

It falls to the school districts to make on-the-job training not only available but also convenient, so these teachers and the students they interact with have the full and total benefit of inclusionary education.

Bookmark NJ.com/Opinion. Follow on Twitter @NJ_Opinion and find NJ.com Opinion on Facebook.

No extended debt relief for La Crescent-Hokah





Creating calmer classrooms

Each morning at 10:12 a chime rings through Megan Astrouski’s Kersey Creek Elementary classroom. Her six young students lay out yoga mats and remove their shoes, preparing to follow an instructional yoga video.

These regular yoga sessions are part of the Get Ready to Learn program, which Astrouski adopted in her class of students with autism.

“Postures help ground their bodies,” Astrouski said. “They’re learning about their bodies and what to do with them when they’re writing or doing their work.”

Kersey Creek first implemented the Get Ready to Learn program a few years ago and their students with autism are already thriving. The elementary school has one of the county’s leading public school programs for instructing students with autism. Students with autism may be placed in a program designed for students who need more intensive instruction.

Principal Lisa Thompson envisioned changes to the previous special education program when she came to Kersey Creek three years ago. The elementary school has two programs for students with autism, and students are placed based on their individual needs.

Thompson said that when she started at the school, students with autism spent most of their days in their classroom isolated from other students.

“In a society we all are together and we interact together,” Thompson said. “I knew that as a principal, as a human, we needed to change things.”

Astrouski was hired to teach in the more intensive autism program shortly after Thompson joined the school. Teachers in general education and special education classrooms collaborated to create a more inclusive environment for students with autism.

Astrouski’s students spend a lot of their instructional time in general education classrooms, like third grade teacher Melissa Lowder’s class. The students in the intensive program then go to Astrouski’s room for more individualized instruction based on their needs.

Part of Astrouski’s instruction includes having her students identify their feelings using the Zones of Regulation. Students complete a morning check-in, afternoon check-in, and afternoon check-out using a system where colors represent a range of moods from tired to terror.

Based on these check-ins, Astrouski can work with the students to regulate themselves.

“The key is for students to understand what they need to do to calm their bodies,” Astrouski said.

If a student is feeling restless they may use a fidget toy like a stress ball, or jump on the class room trampoline to calm down. If feeling anxious, a student could put on the weighted vest or go in the Brain Break room to relax.

“We want to help them build independence and learn to self-regulate,” Astrouski said. “When their bodies are regulated they can kind of collect their thoughts and focus.”

Since exposing students with autism to general education classrooms more regularly, the communication skills have improved, Astrouski said. Some of her students with autism were nonverbal, and some used communication boards.

Students have been engaging in more spontaneous language verbally or with their communication boards and devices than they were a few years ago.

“We have high expectations and they rise to the occasion,” Astrouski said.

Students in general education classes benefit from interacting with Astrouski’s students and had opportunities to learn about how people may act or learn differently than them.

“Children will typically love and embrace each other,” Thompson said.

“Learning about differences is a life skill, so it’s important that these students learn that someone may not look like you or act like you but what’s going on inside of them is the same as what’s going on inside of you.”


Education Secretary: This Is A Tough Budget Year

State House members kicked off their third and final week of budget hearings with an all-day QA with education officials.

Gov. Tom Wolf’s proposed plan includes a $100 million boost for general education funding, which returns the allocation almost to its 2011 peak.

But talk has centered on what’s getting cut.

With the commonwealth facing a nearly $3 billion structural deficit, the 2017-18 budget proposal is significantly leaner than Wolf’s last two.

Education Secretary Pedro Rivera noted, that put his department under some pressure.

“This was an extremely difficult budget year,” Rivera said. “The governor is looking for an additional $2 billion in efficiencies.”

Many of the cuts to education spending were borne out of the McKinsey Report—an analysis by a third-party contractor Wolf hired to help him find savings.

Rivera says some of the measures—like completely axing state funding for the University of Pennsylvania’s Veterinary School—were tough to make, but allowed the department to place high priority on funding preschool, K through 12, and special education.

State higher education won’t see much of an increase, however.

Rivera said the department’s trying to improve struggling enrollment and retention rates in other ways.

“Our college acceptance standards do not align with graduation standards,” he said. “So one of the conversations we’re having now is bringing counselors, and higher ed admissions counselors together to say, what must you graduate with in high school in order to move on seamlessly into higher ed.”

Rivera said he wants the legislature to make changes in a few areas—particularly school funding equity.

Despite a new funding formula becoming law last year, Pennsylvania’s wealthiest public schools still get more than twice the money of poorer schools.

New book by Kenan Senior Fellow explores history, philosophy of US education

In 2011, Geoffrey Harpham presented at Washington University in St. Louis about the history of humanities in America and was approached afterward by a man who wanted to share his life story.

What followed was a tale rooted in the American Dream: in the early 1960s, the man said he fled Cuba and arrived on the shores of Florida with no money, no family and no knowledge of English. He was eventually able earn a GED, enrolled in community college and found himself in a literature course studying Shakespeare.

“He had no understanding of Shakespeare at all. He sat at the back of the room and tried to stay out of trouble,” Harpham recalls the man telling him. “One day, the teacher came over, pointed at him, and said, ‘Mr. Ramirez, what do you think?’”

The man in question – “Mr. Ramirez” – told Harpham he never forgot that moment because as he paused to consider the weight of discussing Shakespeare in his second language, it struck him that this was the first time anyone had asked him such a question. The man handed Harpham his business card, labeled “emeritus professor of comparative literature.”

Harpham lost the card, but never forgot the story.

“The more I thought about it, every part of his story reflected a distinctive feature of the American educational system,” Harpham said. “I began to wonder how, when, and why we created a system that made such miracles possible.”

In his next book, “What Do You Think, Mr. Ramirez? The American Revolution in Education,” Harpham, Visiting Scholar and Senior Fellow at the Kenan Institute for Ethics, uses the interaction with “Mr. Ramirez” as a jumping off point to explore the history and philosophy of U.S. education, its founding principles, and how those themes may be changing today.

What are the key principles of our educational system?

The system that was created after World War II had three principles. It was, first, universal in that everybody had to go to high school and everyone could have access to a post-secondary education. Second, it was liberal in that students would study a range of subjects for their own sakes, not for job preparation or professional training. And third, it was “general,” in that it was oriented toward the production of citizens who could run their own affairs, make informed decisions about public affairs, and lead rich and fulfilling lives. All this sounds commonplace to us, but it was remarkably progressive, even radical, at the time. Even today, no other nation has been able to replicate it.

Why is this process of education important from a civic perspective?

The American system was quite deliberately created as a kind of compact between the nation and its citizens. It is intended to create a society of people who can function in a democracy. The founders of the country fully understood that democracy ran a great risk through uninformed gusts of popular opinion leading to tyranny of the majority, and that the country could only succeed by waging what Thomas Jefferson called a “crusade against ignorance.” The post-war system was an attempt to translate that crusade into a national policy.

What are the ethical challenges that face the system today?

Every part of Mr. Ramirez’ story is now under stress. The entire concept of public education is being questioned by many, including our new Secretary of Education. Many community colleges have become job training centers while their academic programs have atrophied. The cost of higher education is restricting access to many, and burdening many others with debt. And the value of liberal education is constantly challenged–this is especially true of the humanities, of course. The challenge is to maintain the commitment to universal, liberal, and general education in a changing world. Those commitments grew out of a national self-understanding, and if we abandon them, we will have a different kind of country.  The irony is that so many other countries in Europe and Asia–countries we are competing with–regard the American system as the model for their own reforms.

As an English teacher, I am especially impressed by the empowering effect of the act of literary interpretation on undergraduates. Interpretation has fallen out of favor as a professional practice, but at the undergraduate level, it can be exciting and productive.

Learn more about how social and cultural knowledge has impacted the American educational system in “What Do You Think, Mr. Ramirez? The American Revolution in Education.” The book is set for release this fall.

Cedar Grove Education Officials Propose Second Integrated …

CEDAR GROVE, NJ – Cedar Grove education officials have planned a second integrated preschool for special education and general education children to learn in an inclusive environment.

A second integrated preschool program was proposed by Director of Special Services Christopher Kinney as part of the budget presentation at the Feb. 28 Board of Education meeting. The second preschool would be added to South End School and would mirror the one currently in place at North End School.

The program would not only make it easier for students whose home school is not North End, but it would also enrich the education of both general education and special education students.

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“You have students with disabilities that are put into a preschool with those called ‘typical peers,’” Kinney said of the integrated preschool model. “It’s an added benefit for both students because the program is enriched because of certain things that need to be done for both students.”

In this type of classroom, students would be introduced to things that they may not get to experience in an exclusively general education or special education classroom, including music therapy, group PT, or group speech.

Although there are no set numbers yet, Kinney said the district has talked about capping each class off at 15 students. The school district has a lottery system to see which children get to attend the preschool, and while there are currently more people who have applied for the North End preschool program than the South End one, Kinney hopes that after the March 9 open house more people will apply.

“Parents are going to have to bring their kids somewhere to preschool and it’s in town,” Kinney said, adding that students can attend the South End preschool even if their home school is North End. “So if they don’t make the North End cut, they can be added to the South End lottery pool.”

The $5,000 per year tuition for the preschool is one that Kinney said is reasonable compared to other schools in the area, especially for the 8:30 a.m. to 3:05 p.m. schedule.

That tuition would also bring in revenue for the school district, Kinney said at the meeting. With the elimination of school buses for those students who can now attend their home school, the new preschool teacher’s salary would be covered.

The ability to now attend their home school is something that Kinney said is an added bonus for students and would make for a smoother transition into kindergarten.

“Right now if [students] need a preschool classroom because of special needs, they have to go to North End even though they are South End students,” Kinney said. “If I open up South End preschool, they’re in their home school so they get acclimated and accustomed to that.”

This second preschool would also give more students the Cedar Grove school experience, even if they were not placed at their home school.

“It also helps the community get exposure to the schools in general,” Kinney said. “Even if you’re not chosen for North End, but you’re a North End parent and you won the lottery for a South End spot, I wouldn’t be discouraged, because you learn the routine, and it’s almost the same program as North End.”

Parents can learn more about this preschool opportunity at the open house Thursday, March 9 at 1:15 p.m. at North End School, or they can contact Kinney’s office directly by calling 973-239-1550 ext. 6200.