Brookline to offer extended day kindergarten
Friday, December 20, 2013
BROOKLINE – At its meeting on Dec. 10, the Brookline School Board approved a proposal to offer parent-paid full-day kindergarten at Richard Maghakian Memorial School for the 2014-15 school year.
Based on anticipated enrollment, there will be two full-day classes and one traditional half-day class. An additional half-time teacher and half-time instructional assistant will need to be hired, but since the program will be self-funded through tuition, there is no expected impact on the budget.
Liz Perry, RMMS principal, addressed the board throughout the fall about the benefit of expanding the kindergarten program offered at the school, and modified her proposal until the current budget-neutral, parent-pay plan was approved.
RMMS began offering expanded day kindergarten in 2010 to help students with special needs.
According to Perry’s data, there has been a growing segment of students who could benefit from the intervention but have been unable to take advantage of EDK due to limited resources at the school. These include students who scored in the low to average range in literacy, numeracy, speech and fine and gross motor skills, as well as those who had no formal schooling prior to entering kindergarten.
Other families who don’t meet the academic criteria for an EDK program but prefer the schedule of a full-day class have chosen to enroll in private kindergarten.
Kindergarten walk-in registration was held early this year to assess interest in having a full-day option at RMMS. The administration would like to see more of Brookline’s 5-year-olds attend RMMS, and the new plan will help with reaching that goal.
Under the new plan, there will no longer be a specific EDK class for children who qualify. Regardless of academic and social skill level, all families who enroll in the full-day program will pay $350/month tuition, for an annual total of $3,500. Perry said that rate is comparable to what other nearby districts charge. A limited number of financial aid scholarships will be available.
“The tuition is very reasonable and we are hoping it will meet families’ needs and be appealing to most of our families,” Perry said.
The full-day program will run from 8:25 a.m.-2:55 p.m., the same schedule as the rest of the school.
Transportation services should be able to accommodate the increase in bus ridership for full-day kindergartners. There is enough classroom space in the school to accommodate the change. Class size will be limited to 20 students, and if enrollment targets aren’t met, the program will not be offered.
The half-day program, which is funded through state aid, will remain unchanged.
“Students in both the full-day and half-day programs receive high-quality instruction in math and language arts every morning aligned to (New Hampshire) state standards,” Perry explained in her proposal. “Students who participate in the full day have added enrichment and extension activities, such as art, music, computer, health, guidance, and physical education.
“The full day program will also provide an opportunity for students who are at risk to receive the appropriate interventions at a more relaxed pace. A rest period, lunch and outdoor play will be incorporated into each full day, as well as the opportunity for the development of social skills in both individual and cooperative group activities.”
Perry sent a letter home to families on Friday, Dec. 13 inviting parents to attend one of two informational sessions on Jan. 8 where information relating to class schedules, tuition and day care will be discussed. The sessions will be held at the school at 12:15 p.m. and 6 p.m.
For more information, text of the proposal as approved by the board can be found on the SAU41 web site at www.sau41.org/Brookline/draft-minutes/2013-12-10-BSD-Supporting-Material-Attachment.pdf.