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Kindergarten enrollment is low

PETERBOROUGH — ConVal School District officials are urging parents whose children will be entering kindergarten in the fall to get in touch, because so far just 76 potential students have been identified.

Last year at this time the district had 102 students enrolled, Human Resources Director Tim Markley told the School Board on Tuesday. Eventually 152 students signed up and, as of April 1, the district has 148 students in its eight elementary schools.

Markley said if more students don’t enroll, the district might have to consolidate kindergarten and first grade classes. In Hancock, for example, only one kindergartner has been enrolled to date, even though the district has held two enrollment sessions. Enrollment is not required, said Rick Matte, ConVal’s director of student services. The registration sessions provide an opportunity to screen students who may have special needs and make plans for how many classes will be needed.

Matte said the district plans to hold at least one more registration session. He said three additional sign-ups had come in late last week, after Markley complied his figures.

If a kindergarten class has to be combined with a first-grade class, it will mean one fewer teacher is needed at the school. Markley said he wanted to call the situation to the board’s attention, because if a teacher’s contract is not to be renewed, the teacher must be notified by mid-April. He said the district currently has two teaching positions that have not been filled for next year, which offers a bit of flexibility.

School Supt. Brendan Minnihan said kindergarten enrollment tends to fluctuate and many parents don’t enroll their children in advance, but do send them to kindergarten in the fall. He said the worst-case scenario might be having to have two new combined kindergarten and first grade classes. That would mean finding positions for two teachers, which should not be difficult because of the current vacancies.

Other towns with low kindergarten enrollment for next year at the moment are Dublin with five students and Francestown, Greenfield and Temple with six. Temple and Dublin both currently have a combined kindergarten and first grade class, while the district’s other elementary schools have strictly kindergartens.

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