MOUNT VERNON, N.Y. - After months of public presentations, debate, and discussion regarding a proposed $108 million school bond referendum, the district’s fate will be in the community’s hands on Tuesday as they cast their vote on the spending plan.
On Tuesday, following an exhaustive public campaign to encourage taxpayers to vote “yes” on the referendum, taxpayers will determine if the district will receive the necessary funds to make districtwide improvements to “facilitate district leadership’s vision to improve the quality of instruction, enhance programs and services and close achievement gaps.”
Polls will open citywide at 7 a.m. on Tuesday, remaining open until 9 p.m. Polling locations can be found online .
The proposal represents no tax increase until the 2017-18 school year. Thereafter, the annual tax increase for residents with a home value of $315,000 would average a tax increase of $7.37 each month for the next 20 years, peaking in 2020 with a $12.92 monthly increase.
It includes wide-sweeping improvements, districtwide, under Superintendent Kenneth Hamilton’s “20/20 Vision.” Under the plan laid out by Hamilton, the district would implement full-day universal pre-kindergarten programs and include a restructuring of the district.
If approved, the plan would continue a transition toward the “K-8” model laid out by former interim Superintendent Judith Johnson. Under the plan, Pennington, Holmes, Traphagen, Lincoln and Columbus would become Pre-K-8 buildings; Williams, Grimes, Graham, Turner and Hamilton would becomes K-8 with the new Parker Early Learning Center for pre-kindergarten programs; with the Turner schools providing a K-5 and 6-8 model.
According to district leadership, national research studies have proven that replacing a middle school environment with pre-K learning communities is a more successful approach to academic achievement.
“These changes would bring a new era for elementary education in Mount Vernon, building a stronger, more consistent school system that offers all of our youngest students the tools they need for a successful academic career, regardless of their background,” Hamilton said. “What’s more, the pre-K-through-8 and K-through-8 structure would be better suited to nurture students throughout their elementary and middle school years as they grow to become successful young adults.”
Hamilton said that students who begin to learn at an earlier age will have more opportunities for success in the classroom as they move forward.
“These preschool, elementary and secondary school proposals will ensure all of our students are college and career ready,” he noted. “Our conversations with parents, business leaders and our elected officials reinforce that the status quo is no longer acceptable. We’re doing what we ask our students to do, which is ‘to innovate.’ And our students – who will be the future leaders in our community and our nation – will show us through their eventual college and career success that this bond referendum mattered in their lives.
"Short term research informs us that young children who participate in high-quality Pre-K programs enter kindergarten better prepared to learn."
Click here to sign up for Daily Voice's free daily emails and news alerts.