Bourne To Begin Offering Full-Day Kindergarten
By: Diana T. Barth
Beginning next fall, Bourne schools will offer full-day kindergarten classes, one in James F. Peebles Elementary School and the other at Bournedale. The program will be tuition-based and will serve a total of 40 children, 20 in each class.
The parents of any prospective kindergarten student who meets the general entrance and residence requirements for Bourne schools can ask that their child be registered for full-day kindergarten. If more than 40 children apply, a lottery will be conducted to determine who will be placed in the full-day program.
The Bourne School Committee unanimously approved that offering last night, after hearing from Anne-Marie G. Siroonian, a member of the board’s curriculum subcommittee.
Ms. Siroonian told board members that Bourne is the only school district on Cape Cod that does not offer a full-day kindergarten. She also said that all of the Cape Cod districts, except for Sandwich, are tuition-free.
While she made it clear that her committee would have liked to have offered the program without tuition, members did not feel they should wait until the budget and economy allowed for that option.
The subcommittee proposed setting tuition costs at $3,500 per year, allowing for a $500 deposit followed by 10 monthly payments of $300 each.
The district has also applied for a “Transition to Full-Day Kindergarten” grant. Money awarded under that state program ranges from $10,000 to $40,000, and could help pay for supplies, materials, professional development, rooms, and technology. If the grant is awarded, the financing of the program will be revisited.
School committee members reviewed a possible daily schedule for the full-day program, which will run from 8:45 AM to 3 PM. They were also provided information on the proposed curriculum, which included subjects such as science, social studies, handwriting, art, music, physical education and more.
Along with the full-day program, Bournedale Elementary School will continue to offer six sections of the half-day program. In answer to a question from the audience, school personnel and committee members said that all kindergarten students, half-day and full-day, would be taught what they needed to succeed in first grade. The full-day program offered more time to address the social and emotional, as well as the academic needs to the children.
The goal of the district team that proposed the full-day kindergarten program was to implement a self-funding program that did not impact the budget.
Town Administrator Thomas M. Guerino attended last night’s school committee meeting to underline how tight the budget is this year.
Mr. Guerino came to discuss the more than $230,000 he still had to cut from the town’s general budget in order to meet an unanticipated higher cost assessed by the Upper Cape Cod Regional Technical School. He promised to work to make the cuts he needs to make as harmless as possible, but noted that departmental budgets had all been cut close to the bone.
Given the subcommittee’s goal, the group assumed that out of the 40 students expected to attend kindergarten, six would have an individual education plan which required them to attend such a program, and thus might attend for free or at a reduced cost. They self-funded the program based on an assumption that 34 students would pay the $3,500 annual tuition, giving the program $119,000.
One Bournedale teacher would head the new full-day kindergarten; an additional teacher would be hired for Peebles at a cost of $96,500. The start-up cost of classroom furniture, supplies, games, instructional materials, and some anticipated staff relocation compensation will bring the total cost of the program up to an estimated $117,342.
That would leave $1,658 earmarked toward supplies and other costs of the program’s second year.
School Committee Chairman Matthew Stuck noted one risk that needed to be raised. He said that if the district offered full-day kindergarten, and fewer than 40 children enrolled, Bourne schools would still have to offer the program, paying for costs not covered by tuition out of its budget.
Mr. Stuck said it was not a serious concern, but he felt it should be mentioned. Ms. Siroonian had said that over the last few years between 30 and 40 kindergarten children attended alternative full-day kindergartens provided by private schools.
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