Class of 2028 begins educational journeyc

Full-day kindergarten is not an issue in Milford yet, but the new superin­tendent of schools and the school board chairman both say they favor it.

"I recently asked the ad­ministration to research the possibility of offering one or two sessions of full-day kindergarten on a tu­ition basis (i.e. at no addi­tional cost to taxpayers)," Chairman Paul Dargie said in an email. "I recog­nize the budget realities that might preclude us from offering it."

Kathy Cleveland can be reached at 673-3100 or ONT VERNON – Oli­ver Hinckley will start kindergarten next week, and his experi­ence will be different from that of most other local five-year-olds. That’s because he’ll be going to school all day.

Mont Vernon Village School be­gins its full-day kindergarten pro­gram on Sept. 8, and it’s the only public school around here to offer an all-day program.

Oliver’s mother is happy.

"As a working parent, I prefer this to finding additional daycare for him … The longer school days will allow for a better integration of play and academics, providing a well-rounded school experi­ence," she said in an email.

Oliver’s older brother attended half-day kindergarten in Nashua, she said, and too much was being crammed into those few hours.

Village School Principal John Schuttinger is also happy, partly because when this year’s crop of five-year-olds enter first grade they will have had a more uniform experience.

"And it’s just nice to have the younger students here," he said. "They will have a lot of fun and do a lot of socializing. Play is very important to their development."

Schuttinger has been in touch with all parents of incoming kin­dergarten students, and he says they are all very excited about the longer day. Most of the children have attended all-day pre-kin­dergarten programs, he said, and they’re not concerned that they will be in school for too long each day.

Educators generally agree that kindergarten-age children benefit from a longer school day, though some are concerned that there can be too much emphasis on aca­demic learning at that age.

New Hampshire was the last state to mandate public kinder­garten, and Milford was one of the last towns to start a program, in the 1990s.

A recent report from Education Week found that 55 percent of kin­dergarten-aged New Hampshire students are in full-day programs, compared to 75 percent nation­wide. This is in part due to the fact that the state offers funding only for half-day programs.

Funding wasn’t a problem for Mont Vernon, because declin­ing enrollments meant they are enough staff and space to enlarge the program without asking voters for money.

It’s a different story in Amherst, where voters in March rejected a full-day plan that would have cost $621,000.