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Space May Limit Full-Day Kindergarten Options in Braintree Next Year

The Braintree School Committee on Monday night also heard from an outside auditor and from Liberty Principal Dr. Joyce Radiches on her approaching retirement. Look for more on that on Braintree Patch.

Full-day kindergarten offerings could be limited next year depending on an expected increase in Braintree Public Schools enrollment and the availability of classroom space at the elementary level.

The kindergarten registration process kicks off next week with a letter to parents calling for information on how many children will join kindergarten in 2013-2014 and how many families are considering the full-day program. School Committee members approved the notice on Monday night.

This year, full-day kindergarten is being held in three classrooms at the high school, and at Flaherty, Hollis and Morrison schools. The BHS classes, with a total of 60 students, will be available come September. But home school full-day kindergarten may not be offered, Superintendent Dr. Peter Kurzberg said.

"Space is still a major obstacle to us," he said.

At Liberty Elementary School, for instance, there could be five first grade classes next year for the first time in recent memory. A study completed about two years ago of Braintree's expected enrollment showed that additional students over the next decade will put pressure in particular on the K-5 level, prompting officials to hire an architectural firm to look at expanding classroom space.

Parents should know that just because full-day kindergarten is currently available at their home school, that does not mean the program will continue there next fall, Dr. Kurzberg stressed. Along with the letters, there will be open kindergarten registration at the schools in January.

If there is not enough room to offer home school programs, one alternative could be a kindergarten center at Monatiquot School. Committee member Pam Kiley, a longtime proponent of the idea, said it would make sense because the six elementary schools are bursting with students.

Monatiquot could open up next September if the Montessori School, in the last year of its contract there, puts in a long-term bid to lease Eldridge School. Earlier this fall, Business Manager Peter Kress told the committee that Montessori was examining the possibility.

On Monday, Kress said that Montessori is looking at the details for Eldridge now, and that a public bidding process will likely be complete by mid-January.

"It is an option, but it does have some drawbacks," Dr. Kurzberg said, pointing especially to transportation.

Once the administration has a better handle on overall kindergarten numbers early next year, it will hold an information session for families and a full-day kindergarten lottery.

Prompted by strong demand for the program last winter, the district opened up the three, 20-student classrooms in the home schools this year, along with the three at the high school, charging $3,000 for full-pay students and $1,500 for reduced-pay students.

Full-day kindergarten was introduced as a pilot program in September 2011 after a number of failed attempts by advocates to bring the program to Braintree. Since then, interest has steadily increased, going from an initial lottery of 66 children to 163 submitted applications with deposits last winter.

Matt November 21, 2012 at 12:12 AM
Nothing wrong with that amount. When your kid goes on to college class sizes are bigger then that. A college lecture hall could have 300 to 400 students.
Laura Burton November 21, 2012 at 12:28 AM
I don't know anyone who is happy with class sizes in themid to high 20's, If you were to review just about any of the recent school committee meetings, you will see parents there begging and pleading for more teachers/smaller classes. By the time they get to college, hopefully they will have a better attention span than what most elementary age children have!!!! (LOL)
Mark November 21, 2012 at 01:49 AM
Paula This year 25 is acceptable and next year 30. What do the children think? Why don't you student representatives at these meetings? Are we really comparing a 20 year old college student to 6 or 7 year old now? Attention span, brain development, maturity And consistency are key factors in a child's ability to learn! Let's be consistent of what we want and expect of Braintree's school children.
Mark November 21, 2012 at 04:05 PM
First, comparing elementary school education to college lecture halls is ludicrous. Having class sizes that exceed 20-25 students is excessive for elementary school age children. These are the years that set the foundation for their education and we are failing the kids if we allow larger classes with less individual attention. Second, let's take a hard look at the existing space in the schools. Liberty, for instance, has their computer lab in half of the cafeteria. Their “library” consists of a cart that rolls from room to room. They aren’t even allowed to take books out. If you compare the average expenditure per student to cities and towns across the state, Braintree is near the bottom. Some would argue that we are being more efficient but when you have lack of resources or poor resources as noted above, you have to wonder if we’re not short changing our children. While my children have done well, it has been as much or more about the at home education my wife provides than what the opportunities they have received in school. I truly think that the teachers are doing the best they can but are handcuffed by the
Matt November 21, 2012 at 10:11 PM
And by the time they get to college if they don't have a better attention span and they have not developed important social skills then what? And you really think everyone in this town would be willing to pay more taxes to re due schools for smaller classes? There is another answer to this problem. Private schools or even home schooling.But higher taxes is not the answer.

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