Full-day kindergarten in Wilton-Lyndeborough Coop?

LYNDEBOROUGH – Should the Wilton-
Lyndeborough Cooperative District offer all-day kindergarten?

The idea has been discussed several times over the past few years and came up again at the regular board meeting on Tuesday, June 24, at the Central School at the request of Board Member Carol Leblanc, who has been researching the idea.

“The consensus is, it’s a good thing,” she said. “The more I learned, the more I thought kids aren’t all coming to kindergarten at the same level. If we can give them an advantage, we should.”

Although board members were in general agreement that it was a good idea, they were not unanimous in endorsing it.

Superintendent Christine Tyrie suggested the question be studied further with a year of experimenting and begin in the fall of 2016, when school construction is over.

She noted that there are parents who need the full day because of work schedules.

Next year, kindergarten for Lyndeborough and Wilton will be in Lyndeborough, which, unlike Wilton, has no convenient day care facilities.

“We could look at an ‘extended day’ program,” Tyrie said, “as a place for children to stay. It would involve two aides and charging parents for the half day. With 20 students we could break even.”

Leblanc said she was concerned about parents who couldn’t afford to pay for the extended day, and so wouldn’t be reaching children who need it most.

Board Member Jim Button suggesting comparing the costs with private kindergartens and day care programs.

Tyrie said it would be “less than private care, and parents are looking to cover the full day.”

Principal Tim O’Connell suggested a study committee, “to do some exploring this year, how the program would work, what it would cost, what the benefits would be.”

And Chairman Geoff Brock said the reason for public education is to educate all the students.

“Let’s do the research and show people it is cheaper to provide a full day,” he said.

Member Joyce Fisk demurred. “I feel we are pushing the kids. Some aren’t ready for a full day.” She added, “Studies show that after six weeks, they are all about even” academically.

Button said kindergarten “isn’t all about academics. There are a lot of other aspects, like socializing and getting ready for first grade.”

The board agreed to form the committee under the general direction of O’Connell, to consider changing to full-day in fall 2016.

Tyrie said she would get cost figures on “what people pay for day care and for full-time private kindergarten.”