Full-Day Kindergarten Article to Go to Reading Town Meeting in November

The article would establish a school building committee.

The effort to bring has taken another step forward.

By consensus, members of three town bodies – the School Committee, Board of Selectmen and Finance Committee -- agreed Monday to hand the issue to a school building committee.

Town Manager Peter Hechenbleikner recommended that he and Superintendent John Doherty; Assistant Superintendent for Finance Mary DeLai; and Town Counsel Brackett and Lucas develop the wording for a warrant article for the upcoming November Town Meeting to form a building committee.

The School Committee would determine when full day kindergarten would be implemented for all students, according to several speakers. That would be unlikely to happen for the 2013-14 school year, Hechenbleikner said. The start of the 2014 school year would be more realistic, he said.

Among the issues: whether to also look at space at the same time for the town’s pre-school RISE program for both special and typical students.

The town’s five elementary schools are squeezed for space, Doherty reiterated in a presentation Monday, not because enrollment is up but because of programs, such as the popular optional full-day kindergarten and special education, and anticipated new programs in science, math and technology.

The School Committee last month directed school administrators to begin the process of implementing full-day kindergarten for all Reading kindergartners.

Procedurally, Town Meeting has to establish a building committee, Hechenbleikner said, and lay out its charge. 

Hechenbleikner suggested that the School Department address both full-day kindergarten and pre-school space issues. School Committee member Lisa Gibbs agreed.

The owner of a local pre-school questioned why the school department might expand its pre-school program. That would stress child care businesses in town, said Mary Grimmer, owner of .

As for full-day kindergarten, 80 percent of the almost 700 parents of students in the Reading public schools, from pre-schoolers to high school seniors, said Reading should offer free, full-day kindergarten, Doherty said. A majority of respondents like the option of adding space short term or long term at the students’ home schools. 

But consultant Frank Locker of Locker Educational Planning, to the School Committee in June, has said that many of the town’s elementary schools are already squeezed on their sites.

Doherty said he has explored renting school space in town. He declined to elaborate.

Town officials and residents also have to consider two other building projects, several speakers said: the library renovation and addition and work on the . The town is waiting for word from the state on both projects.

Town Meeting needs to address two school issues, according to the town manager: funding for the school building committee, to hire an architect, for example and whether any modular classroom space will be needed for the 2013-14 school year. Hechenbleikner recommended against buying or leasing modular space without a long-term plan.

Emily M September 12, 2012 at 12:40 PM
full day kdg will make people want to buy houses here.
Thomas J. Ryan September 12, 2012 at 02:52 PM
'Preschool' is one word; it should not be hyphenated. Tom Ryan
Mary w September 12, 2012 at 08:30 PM
Rob Peter to pay Paul is what is happening here. Every year there is a push/pull for budget dollars, smaller class size, more educational options, etc. to "educate our future citizens" With a finite TOWN budget, where will the money come from if we add an entire new tier (all day K)of dollar-draining education needs to the town? Our award winning high school as well as all other town functions will have to peer down and cut out from what we all know is already living a "bare bones" existence. A superior high school education is an absolute necessity as well as police, fire and DPW staffing levels--that is what we should focus on--not adding to the infrastructure for a specific group This is being rushed and pushed through because of a grant promise. What happens when we over spend the grant dollars or they disappear entirely? Once we go down this rabbit hole there will be no reversing the process or spending. This town does not necessarily need more new, young families to move in. This town NEEDS TO ensure that the current families and homeowners can afford to stay and be able to continue with the current bare bones lifestyle we have become accustomed to living within.
readingmom September 12, 2012 at 09:25 PM
Most progressive towns are offering full day kindergarten and the trend is also for preschool. I decided to come to Reading for its outstanding school system, the more they offer our kids the better our society. Next I hope would be Spanish immersion classes in K or 1st grade. Not sure the benefits of waiting until 7th grade.
Rob September 12, 2012 at 09:54 PM
Better yet, lets adopt Spanish as our national language and make English an elective.
Barry September 12, 2012 at 11:34 PM
Best evidence yet of why an all-day kindergarten is important in reducing ignorance among the masses.
Joe Veno September 13, 2012 at 12:30 AM
Well said Mary.
Rob September 13, 2012 at 12:33 AM
Barry, how is it ignorant to feel that kids shouldn't be forced to learn Spanish in first grade? You don't seem very open minded to different opinions.
Joe Veno September 13, 2012 at 12:38 AM
In the dictionary I just looked at is pre'school
M September 13, 2012 at 02:33 AM
When you want to sell your house for a good price to retire to a vacation spot/warmer climates/smaller home, it will be the "new young families" who will be fighting to pay you top dollar, to live here. The better educated the children are in these new young families the more they will make & pay into social security and medicare to fund seniors now and in the future. How is it that so many less prestigious cities/towns (e.g., Wilmington, Woburn, Medford, Burlington, Boston ), similarly prestigious towns (Melrose), and very small towns (virtually every community west of Worcester) are able to offer free full day K? Many of them have free school buses, too. And lower taxes and tax rates than our town. It can be done. Not providing the better educational opportunities that universal full day K provides is putting Reading kids at a disadvantage compared to the 67% of kids in the state who get full day K for free. Moreover, because 83% of the k-age kids in MA attend full day K (includng both pd/free), it seems that the half day K kids may be at an educational disadvantage as the years go by. As far as I can tell, the town only needs to find one additional classroom+ teacher in each school to fit in an added full day K (each school has no more than 2 half day classes, I think, so they just need the space for when the other half is at school). Put art and/or music in a portable classroom or the cafeteria (when not in use), and use the dedicated space for K.
Tom Jeffords September 13, 2012 at 01:54 PM
I am still trying to figure out the benefits of Spanish immersion classes in K or 1st grade. Perhaps you would be better suited living in Cambridge, Newton, or Brookline. What next? An advocacy for banning styrofoam containers in Reading?
Richard Jertz September 13, 2012 at 02:45 PM
Maybe if there is full day kindergarden they can teach about the problems of underage drinking at an early age.
macmic September 13, 2012 at 10:10 PM
Mary, cry me a river. How old are your children? Times are different today than they were ten years or even five years ago. DPW staffing levels? Yeah because we need more salary or hourly positions in DPW? Are you kidding me? Most parents in todays world work two jobs just to afford their home in Reading. Come up with solutions or just leave it alone. You are obviously among the 20% of the 700 families poled.
macmic September 13, 2012 at 10:11 PM
Funny stuff
macmic September 13, 2012 at 10:16 PM
Joe That's all ?? Come on board with the 80%. Think about it. 700 families poled and 80% said yes have full day K. Think of it this way. Mrs. Obama would support it. ( Hhahahahaha)
Thomas J. Ryan September 16, 2012 at 12:03 AM
Joe, the little mark you saw in 'preschool' in the dictionary is not a hyphen; it is called a high-set mark, which indicates the primary stress or accent. Tom Ryan
Joe Veno September 16, 2012 at 12:58 AM
peter lucci September 16, 2012 at 01:40 PM
ok. duh....
Rowen O September 16, 2012 at 11:46 PM
Instead of teaching spanish in kindergarten, why not have them learn-up (see the hyphen) and study chinese, japanese....why spanish?
Thomas J. Ryan September 17, 2012 at 11:41 PM
Chinese, Japanese, and Spanish should be capitalized. Learn up should not have a hyphen.
Mr White September 18, 2012 at 12:19 PM
I'm glad to see the spelling police are on the beat. Our tax dollars at work! :)
Dave Miskinis September 18, 2012 at 02:15 PM
In my opinion, full day kindergarten is synonymous with day care. Simple as that.
Dave Miskinis September 18, 2012 at 02:27 PM
M...the statistics you quote are pure and utter nonsense. The real advantage of putting any child that age or near that age into day care, pre-school or the additional hours of full day kindergarten are purely social and not academic. The academic advantages come from the hours spent at home with parents or care providers and yes, genetics. Do you really believe that Reading kids are at a disadvantage without full day K? Both of my kids attended 1/2 day K. They spent a lot of time at home working on reading and spelling. Both, I am proud to say, are at the top of their classes in H.S. Please stop with the alarmist "satisitics."
Mary w September 18, 2012 at 03:05 PM
Everyone is missing the point. Reading only has so many $$ to fund ALL the needs, wants, and necessities. I can teach my child to read do basic math etc. I can't teach honors science,math, languages. Reading's budget history shows with budget restrictions quality, advanced high school courses go--leaving fewer classes for a larger, more needy student group. What do you say when there are only so many seats available in the few honors classes and kids just miss the cut? What do you say when students can't get into college of choice because classes available to him don't compare to classes others can show on their transcripts? "Sorry honey, the family down the street got to send their kid to all day K!" Colleges and employers DO NOT CARE if a child went to all day K. They do care and look at their current educational successes and extracurricular activities. Paying for private K is far more affordable for a parent than paying for private high school. Money invested in a good high school education (town or private) has FAR more ROI. If we don't have a high school with THE best opportunities for students, they will be at a competitive disadvantage even before they graduate. Smart people look at a town look for good roads, trash pickup, crime rate, library, quality schools and education AND TAX RATE. People investing in our town consider EVERYTHING--we should too! WE NEED TO LOOK AT THE ENTIRE TOWN PICTURE NOT JUST THE BRUSH STROKES AT THE BOTTOM OF THE FRAME.
M September 18, 2012 at 03:49 PM
Mary, while I respect your points about sufficient honors class space in high school, if students lag behind at the elementary level because they are poorly prepared in reading and math, the beginnings of which are taught in kindergarten, don't you think it has a ripple effect all the way up the school chain, such that these less well-prepared students will not "make the cut" or even be able to handle honors classes even if there were space? I have never heard that RMHS presently has a shortage of seats in its honors classes. Is this even a real, documented issue? The facts are that Reading is in the minority not only in the state, but nationwide, in terms of offering full day K to all students. Maybe a college doesn't care if a child went to full day K, but the do care if they have to teach a high school graduate remedial math because in high school they still haven't mastered what they should have learned impeccably in the lower grades...the building blocks of which begin in K. Further, as for extracurricular activities, I respecfully disagree--colleges might like to see that a student is involved in them, but they are NO WAY as important as basic education is for ALL grades, from K-12. Do you think it is more important to pay for football and hockey teams & coaches, or fancy costumes for the drama club...teaching reading and math adequately to K students?
peter lucci September 18, 2012 at 04:44 PM
Not sure how you can connect those dots, Mr. Thomas J. Ryan is a very active Town Meeting member, frequent volunteer on various Town boards/committees and a fine retired gentleman. Our tax dollars at work?????
M September 18, 2012 at 05:53 PM
Dave - if your kids are now in high school, then perhaps you don't realize how K requirements have changed in past few yearsbecause of the new common core requirements. My oldest was in half day K before common core, my youngest is presently in full day K with common core. Common core requires teachers to teach to mastery, not merely to touch on a subject & then get back to it later. All good, but harder to do in 2 hours a day. Full day K is NOT day care - more time is spent on the same academics as half day, with, yes, an extra recess break. I have no idea how you can possibly conclude it is "purely social" unless you actually have a child in it-mine is there as I write this, I see the schedule given us by the full day K teacher-my child is DOING ACADEMICS during the extra time, as well as having additional time to practice academic skills with things called "centers", where kids may focus on a particular skill, like counting, practicing writing letters, etc. There may be academic advantages if a parent or care provider is at home sitting down with the child and working on the academic things, of course, But not all parents can do this, many have younger siblings at home to care for, they work, etc., and having the school reinforce the academics with extra LEARNING time of course provides an advantage. My statistics are accurate and not alarmist; look at the school committee space issues documents if you don't believe me.
Ron Powell September 18, 2012 at 11:58 PM
Teach the controversy!
Mr White September 19, 2012 at 11:05 AM
@peter lucci (Proper names, such as Peter Lucci (if that is indeed your real name), should be capitalized) When, exactly, did you lose your sense of humor or has the firm planting of your tongue in your cheek cut off the blood supply to your brain?
MEG September 19, 2012 at 07:49 PM
While reading through the above comments prove that some folks just like to "hear themselves speak"... or, in this case, "post for reaction", I really respect all points of view given most especially by Mary and Dave (and M, though I'm not in agreement). I admire what Reading is trying to do, but at what cost? I'm a parent of 3 children... 2 Elementary and 1 PreK. I AM of this "generation", and it's hard making ends meet at times (purchasing in Reading) yes... BUT my husband and I are willing to make whatever sacrafices we need to make as a family, so I am home and present with my children while they're young - when it's most critical. You don't get that time back! :( Believe it or not, there are still some parents left in this generation who actually like being home with their children ;) Taking myself out of the workforce has not been without struggle, but we agreed that when the kids are all in school Full-Time, I'll go back into High-Tech, Full-Time. But, until then, DON'T FORCE my hand, and push MY child into Full Day Kindergarten! We're the minority vote, but we feel strongly about this!!! Why are our wants for our children merely cast aside? I would never take away their right to choose Full Day. I applaud the efforts of trying to offer it free for those who "want" it or "need" it, but don't take away our right to choose 1/2!!! An accommodation needs to be made allowing us, even if we are the minority, a CHOICE!


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