Full-day kindergarten has been held off the chopping block by Northeastern School Board.

In its place, Northeastern taxpayers may be taking a bigger hit to cover the cost. The school board decided Monday night in a 8-1 vote, with Kevin Gebhart dissenting, to change its mind on last month's decision to stay within its 2.3 percent property tax cap assigned by the state.

Instead, the board decided it would rather seek exceptions that could add several hundred thousand dollars in property tax revenue - enough to prevent the district from having to go to half-day kindergarten.

As a result, full-day kindergarten will remain this fall, and the school board will continue in its budget process with the option to raise taxes as high as 3.6 percent. A 3.6 percent hike would result in an $87 tax increase for a $100,000 homeowner.

The school board isn't locked into raising taxes that high, said business manager Brian Geller.

Geller told the school board audience that the high school pool would remain open under the proposal the board chose, too. A final budget won't be due for a few months, though.

Northeastern entered the budget process with a $2 million hole. Gebhart said before his vote that the board should have stuck with what it already approved and stayed within the tax cap.

"We knew what the numbers were," Gebhart said.

But board member Vanessa Snell countered the board "didn't see the full picture of the full budget" at that point.

Northeastern parent Cynthia Cohen told the board before the vote she wanted full-day kindergarten to stay intact, as it helps improve test scores.

"Is it wise to ask our children to reach those (benchmarks) in half the time?" Cohen said.

After the vote in her favor, Cohen said she was relieved.

Another parent asked the board if full-day kindergarten might be back on the chopping block next budget year. Board president Margie Walker couldn't give a firm answer.

"We don't have a Magic 8 Ball," Walker said.

- Reach Andrew Shaw at ashaw@yorkdispatch.com.

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