One by one, speakers came to the microphone to urge the Shelton Board of Aldermen to give the city's Board of Education (BOE) enough money to implement full-day kindergarten. Parent Kristy Rodrigues said so much is being squeezed into the current half-day program that young students are stressed, including her child. \u201cKindergarten is so hard,\u201d her daughter told her one day when getting off the bus. Rodrigues and many other speakers at the May 14 public hearing on the proposed budget said kindergarten today is much different from when they went to school, with more of an emphasis on learning now. \u201cWe need to give them time\u201d so they can learn, she said. Many subjects for a 2.5-hour day Renee Giordano, a resident and Long Hill School kindergarten teacher, said the current 2.5-hour day for kindergartners means some subjects can\u2019t always be taught. Giordano said students \u201cdesperately need\u201d a longer day, especially those who could use extra help, including youngsters from single-parent households. Several speakers questioned whether they made the right decision when they moved to Shelton due to the lack of a full-day kindergarten program. Bryan Vasser\u2019s two older children benefited from pre-K and full-day K in the Florida public schools, but now he\u2019s worried what will happen here with his two younger children. Vasser said full-day K creates \u201can early foundation\u201d for young children, and so funding an extended program \u201cseems like a real easy decision for me.\u201d \u201cWe can\u2019t wait for someday,\u201d said another speaker. Animosity? Vasser was one of a few people to question if there was \u201canimosity\u201d between city and BOE officials, and how that alleged friction might impact early education opportunities for Shelton children. Most public officials downplayed the claims of animosity. Al Cameron, BOE finance director, said \u201cteamwork\u201d between the city and BOE has led to \u201cmany great things\u201d such as better school technology, and now is the time for another step forward with full-day kindergarten. Cameron, who also is a resident, said \u201cthe Shelton model\u201d is how much the local school system gets done with limited funding. Spends less but gets good results Mark Holden, BOE chairman, said Shelton spends less per student than 90% of Connecticut school districts yet has strong academic performance results. The BOE\u2019s budget is being challenged by rising costs for special education, energy and transportation, Holden said, and full-day kindergarten would save money in the long run by reducing remedial costs. If the aldermen will provide the BOE with $700,000 on top of the mayor\u2019s recommendation, Holden said, school officials will be \u201cmorally bound\u201d to keep their word on how the funds would be spent \u2014 and that includes starting full-day K and eliminating pay-to play fees. Large crowd About 120 people attended the Board of Aldermen hearing on the budget. Parent Mike Sciamanna took note of the big crowd, saying it may be the biggest at a meeting in City Hall in years. \u201cI hope you feel the passion. I hope you feel the energy,\u201d Sciamanna told the aldermen. Two dozen or so people spoke in favor of full-day K, including parents, educators and school officials. The hearing in the City Hall auditorium lasted about 90 minutes. Detractor: 'Glorified babysitting program' Only one speaker, Ron Pavluvcik, offered a different view. Pavluvcik said the city has limited resources, teachers are overpaid, and new learning approaches introduced in recent decades are misguided and have not shown results. Pavluvcik said an expanded kindergarten would be nothing more than a \u201cglorified babysitting program,\u201d and any increase in school funding for full-day kindergarten should be matched by tax relief for senior citizens. A grandmother countered that full-day K is vital to attracting new businesses and residents, and prepares children to meet the state\u2019s new Common Core Standards. \u201cIt\u2019s not a daycare center by any means,\u201d she said. The city's budget process The aldermen could vote to finalize the budget as early as tonight, Thursday. Fiscal year 2014-15 will begin July 1. Most of the attention during the budget process has been on school expenditures, especially full-day K. The BOE originally requested a $3.5-million (5.4%) increase, but Mayor Mark Lauretti reduced that to $2 million (3%). The Board of Apportionment and Taxation (A&T) then added back some funds to make it about a $2.6 million (4%) increase. Neither the mayor nor A&T has recommended a tax increase. Instead, especially with A&T\u2019s version, accumulated past surplus funds would be used to pay for some increased spending. Parent: \u2018It\u2019s just not fair\u2019 At the hearing, Marissa Telesmanick said she has a child in first grade and a child who will enter kindergarten this fall. She said her older child requires remedial help and private tutoring. \u201cI am living the effects of half-day kindergarten,\u201d said Telesmanick, stressing she believes the situation would be different with a full-day program. \u201cIt\u2019s just not fair,\u201d she said. Mary Sue Feige, a Shelton resident and school principal in another town, said she\u2019s seen the difference that full-day K can make. Feige said the number of students who read at or above grade level has doubled in her school since full-day K was started. Role in the economy, home values Wayne Bragg, whose children are now grown, said having full-day K is important to the city\u2019s economic future, housing values, and the ability of students to compete in a global economy. Bragg and several speakers made references to how potential home-buyers will check out a community\u2019s online school ranking, and that Shelton needs to do better by offering full-day K. Anglace: \u2018It's all about the money\u2019 After the meeting, aldermanic President John F. Anglace Jr. said the aldermen are not opposed to full-day kindergarten. \u201cWe\u2019re committed to try to make it work,\u201d Anglace said. \u201cIt\u2019s all about the money \u2014 and examining the dollars and where it\u2019s coming from and how it will be spent.\u201d He rejected claims that \u201canimosity\u201d exists between city and school officials, saying both have roles to play in the budget process. \u201cThey\u2019re making their case and we\u2019re examining it,\u201d he said. Anglace reiterated that he\u2019s against increasing the amount used from surplus funds to pay for an ongoing operating expense such as full-day K.