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The Region 16 Budget for the 2015-2016 school year was recently passed, bringing changes to schools across Region 16.
The most prominent changes being made within the region will include a full day Kindergarten program at both Prospect Elementary and Laurel Ledge Elementary. A talented and gifted program and enrichment program will also being coming to Long River Middle School.
Superintendent Michael Yamin believes implementing these new changes will take learning to the next level.
“Although we were looking to be fiscally responsible, I always think as a progressive learning organization that we should have some new and innovative initiatives,” said Yamin.
In order to proceed with their plans, the budget first had to be approved by the community members. Several steps were taken to ensure that the public was knowledgeable regarding what the budget entailed.
For six weeks, a budget workshop was held and each of the presentations for those six weeks were also posted on the website for those unable to attend. A public hearing was held at Woodland Regional High School in order for attendees to better understand the details of the budget.
Many of the community members who attended were skeptical and approached Yamin with their questions and concerns. Some of these concerns regarded the full day Kindergarten and just how much return there would be for this investment. These questions were understood and addressed by Yamin who enjoyed seeing the public thoroughly involved in the decision.
“I think it has validity and I think all the questions were good questions,” said Yamin. “People made the effort to get involved and that’s what we wanted.”
The implementation of each initiative and its benefit for the region was explained to the public prior to the vote.
A full day kindergarten is among one of the changes. A curriculum is currently in the process of being made and Yamin believes the region is ready for this to be put into place.
Yamin believes the full day kindergarten “will have an enormous effect on the performance of kids over the years.”
Both Laurel Ledge in Beacon Falls and the newly built Prospect Elementary have been equipped to support a full day kindergarten. Laurel Ledge has four kindergarten classrooms, Prospect Elementary has seven.
As far as the talented and gifted program, Yamin will be working to put a committee together in the first half of the 2015-2016 school year. The enrichment program has also already been piloted this year and will continue to be improved and evolved.
Overall, these changes will benefit the quality and level of the learning Region 16. Yamin is very pleased that the budget passed the first time and looks forward to implementing these changes.