SAD 1 going to all-day kindergarten

8 years ago

SAD 1 going to all-day kindergarten

Youngsters in greater Presque Isle’s school district will soon be able to attend all-day kindergarten, as School Administrative District 1 joins a growing movement aimed at closing gaps in literacy and overall student success.

Starting this fall, for the 2017 fiscal year, SAD 1 will have all-day kindergarten, after the school board voted unanimously to approve a recommendation by the superintendent.
“There’s really no drawback from this other than the cost,” said superintendent Brian Carpenter said, outlining his case for why SAD 1 should join most of the rest of Aroostook County in offering all-day kindergarten.
Research over the last 30 years has shown that all-day kindergarten contributes to better reading and social skills, fewer repeats of grades, and overall long-term life success, particularly for children from lower-income backgrounds, Carpenter said.
He added that in some ways, a lot of SAD 1 kindergarten students are already in a day-long program, between half-day kindergarten plus the day care or other after school activities parents arrange.
There are some concerns about how younger children fare in all-day programs, and whether the environment is too rigid for the natural rambunctiousness of five-year-olds. School board member Terry Sandusky said that issue came up at a recent Mapleton select board meeting.
Carpenter said all-day kindergarten doesn’t have to rush students into a too-structured academic environment, and that it will still incorporate ample activities aimed at socialization, creativity and free play.
At the same time, Carpenter said, the district should still expect to be able to measure progress from going to all-day kindergarten and anticipate raising the bar over the long-term.
“This is step one,” he said. “The next step is at every grade after K, we have to improve the curriculum as a snowball effect. The kids are going to get more than they get now. They’ll be better prepared, better readers and writers and mathematicians.”
All-day kindergarten will come with new spending. New teachers — three in Presque Isle and one in Mapleton — will require an estimated $258,000, along with $82,000 for two education technicians. About $11, 000 in new construction would also be required, along with some $25,000 in furniture, and $35,600 in new curriculum.
Altogether, the new costs would total about $414,000, but the administration estimates there will be some savings that bring that total down. Currently, there are 16 buses on the road at noon transporting pre-K and kindergarten students. Carpenter said they believe they can cut those down to eight buses, which would save more than $90,000 in transportation costs.
With the savings in transportation, plus some federal funding, the new annual costs will mostly be in the he teachers’ salaries and total around $275,000, said board member Paul Saija.
“In my opinion, the education advantage that this would give our students works pretty well,” Saija said.
Now the administration and board have to figure out a facilities plan. “One possible solution is to move pre-K to Zippel,” Carpenter said. “We already have two classrooms there that are pre-K designed. The other class would move to the OTC building. Another option would be to put pre-K, K and 1 at Pine, and move 2-5 over to Zippel.”
In other school news, the board is holding a forum for farmers, families and other members of the public to weigh in on the future of the harvest break, on Wednesday, Jan. 27, at 6 p.m. at the Presque Isle High School cafeteria.
A building and grounds committee is also in the process of finalizing recommendations for a five-year plan, which are expected to be released in March or April.
The next SAD 1 board meeting is Wednesday, Feb. 10, 2016 at Pine Street Elementary School.