Full-day kindergarten plan may expand

MILFORD – Last month, school officials proposed a tuition-based, full-day kindergarten program for 32 children.

Now, they’re consider­ing a plan that would ac­commodate more than twice as many 5-year-olds and would be partly self-funded.

Schools Superintendent Robert Marquis told the School Board recently that based on feedback from parents, he is propos­ing a maximum of 80 stu­dents. The additional stu­dents would mean a total program cost of $263,000, with about $75,000 of that paid by taxpayers.

Most parents would pay about $350 a month, and about 25 children who are eligible for free or re­duced-price lunch would have their tuition subsi­dized by taxpayers.

"Inequity is no longer an issue" under the new plan, Marquis said.

He and some School Board members had been concerned that it would be unfair if some children could take advantage of the longer school day, and others whose parents couldn’t afford it would not be able to attend.

Board Chairman Paul Dargie said he liked the new plan, but he doesn’t want parents who pay tu­ition to have to pay for the subsidized students.

Costs would be in a war­rant article next March, and if the article is voted down, there will be no full-day kindergarten.

"That’s the downside of a separate warrant ar­ticle," Dargie said. "No means no."

Traffic at the Bales and Jacques schools con­cerns Marquis.

"While we will provide transportation, there will still be parents" who will drive their children to school and pick them up after school, he said.

Dargie said they will flesh out the plan and its costs during the board’s first meeting in Novem­ber.

There would be five classes, with a maximum of 16 children in each ses­sion at Jacques Memorial School, and each would run at the same time as first grade: 8:25 a.m.-2:45 p.m.

While students in both full- and half-day ses­sions will receive the same math, reading and writing instruction, full-day students will also have lunch and outdoor play in their schedules, as well as dramatic play and projects intended to enrich their academic learning. Art, music and physical education could also be part of their day, according to a School Dis­trict handout.

Kathy Cleveland can be reached 673-3100 or kcleveland@cabinet.com.