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Full-day kindergarten proposed for Northport-East Northport school district

The Northport-East Northport school district's interim Superintendent Thomas Caramore proposed a preliminary $159.7 million budget late Monday that would establish full-day kindergarten in 2015-2016 without busting the state's tax cap.

Caramore presented the budget Monday night at the William J. Brosnan School, and received a round of applause from parents in the audience when he announced $825,000 had been allotted for full-day kindergarten.

The budget would maintain all existing instruction, athletic and extra curricular programs and would have a 0.348 percent year-over-year spending increase of $554,343.

The budget eliminates nine positions, including two in secondary teaching, two in special education and two teaching assistants.

The community has been fighting for a full-day kindergarten in the school district for many years, and it's been a major topic of discussion at the past three board meetings.

Parents have increased pressure on the district to find room in the budget, including gathering more than 2,000 signatures on a petition calling for the board to make it happen.

A week before Caramore presented his budget, about 200 people showed up at the board meeting to demonstrate their support of the issue.

While the district would receive some financial assistance from the state for the first year of converting to full-day kindergarten, the board must still consider funding the extension long term.

Northport is one of 18 districts in the state -- including six on Long Island -- that do not have full-day kindergarten, according to the state Department of Education.

Northport has 256 children enrolled in half-day kindergarten this school year, state figures show. School officials have said that's not representative of the demand for full-day, because many parents could be enrolling their children in private schools so they can receive a full day of education.

The proposal is not final, and the board will continue working on the budget until April 1, when it is expected to be completed, followed by a public hearing May 11.

The district will vote on the school budget May 19.

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