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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.

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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