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NH Leaders Announce Support for Full Day Kindergarten
Published Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Business and community leaders at a press conference in support of a proposal to expand full-day kindergarten in New Hampshire. Photo: Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce

A coalition of business and community leaders announced support for a proposal to expand full-day kindergarten in NH. Attendees included executives from the Greater Manchester, Greater Derry Londonderry, Greater Dover, Greater Keene, Greater Nashua and Greater Salem Chambers of Commerce; Manchester Mayor Ted Gatsas; Nashua Mayor Jim Donchess; and officials from local school districts, among others.

"Full-day kindergarten is a family friendly public policy that will help with efforts to attract and retain young families as part of our state’s workforce,” says Mike Skelton, president & CEO of the Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce. Additionally, Patrick Tufts, president & CEO of Granite United Way, says, "Data consistently shows the positive outcomes that full-day kindergarten programs have for both students and teachers when compared with their half-day peers. Full-day kindergarten would provide New Hampshire children equal opportunity for lifelong benefits in employment, income and healthy behaviors."

Expansion of full-day kindergarten was initially included in Governor Chris Sununu’s budget proposal and has since been approved by the State Senate through separate legislation, Senate Bill 191. The bill was recommended by the House Education Committee on a 15-4 vote and goes to the full House of Representatives for a vote this week. Mayor Gatsas says "this is one of the most important pieces of legislation to come before the legislature this session."

Chamber executives participating in the press conference cited the effect full-day kindergarten will have on efforts to attract and retain young families as part of the state’s workforce as a key benefit, along with the positive effects kindergarten has been shown to have on early childhood learning.

“The benefits of increased access to full-day kindergarten will boost New Hampshire’s economy and improve our overall quality of life," says Molly Hodgson, president of the Greater Dover Chamber of Commerce. "It is time New Hampshire lawmakers make a smart investment in its most important economic resource–our kids–and put our state on a path to greater growth and prosperity,” 

Though Salem would not be the recipient of the present level of funding being discussed, Donna Morris, president of the Greater Salem Chamber of Commerce, says that Salem-area businesses "welcomed the discussion of the importance of early education statewide. We need to make to make sure that, as a state, we are acting in the interest of the people that live here, the businesses that are trying to attract the best workforce, and the children that are being educated here. We need to make sure the New Hampshire advantage is real."

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