Full-day kindergarten options mulled

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Wednesday, January 10, 2018 6:36PM

A fee structure may be the compromise between the costs and benefits of full-day kindergarten at Wilton-Lyndeborough.

During its meeting Tuesday, the School Board discussed whether to place a warrant article requesting approximately $117,000 for the purpose of running full-day kindergarten. 

Earlier this year, the state approved increased funding for full-day kindergarten. The ultimate tax impact of such a measure would be approximately $57,000. 

School Board member Charlie Post said that may be asking too much of taxpayers, recommending that it be put off.

Other board members believed that the funding for kindergarten should be included in the budget, not as a separate warrant article. The majority of the board agreed not to forward the proposed article onto the warrant, in anticipation of a follow-up vote to propose it be added to the budget. 

In the course of the discussion, it was member Matt Ballou that first suggested that taxpayers might be more supportive of the measure if it was self-funded, which is the current model that the school’s extended day program runs on.

Currently, if parents wish to, they can pay a fee of $225 per month to have their child attend an extended day program in addition to the half-day of kindergarten the district already provides.

Assuming that enrollment in the program is as anticipated at about 40 children, the cost to make up the difference for each parent would be less than it is currently, suggested Superintendent Bryan Lane, after a few quick calculations. Though, he suggested, the district might want to look at either a sliding scale or income level adjustment to the fee.

“I never want to be in a situation where I’m creating haves and have nots,” said Lane. 

Member Miriam Lemire asked about parents that were not willing or could not pay a fee, and whether the board would supply a half-day option for those students. 

Lane indicated that might be possible, but that while bussing and lunch would be provided for full-day students, half-day parents would have to accommodate their own. 

The board requested that Lane put together a potential fee structure for a full-day kindergarten, and that the board would reconsider their decision on the warrant article based on those numbers at its next meeting.