Scituate kindergarten expands to all-day this fall

Scituate kindergarten expands to all-day this fall

SCITUATE - Administrators of the School Department say they are "pretty excited" to announce that the school district will offer all-day kindergarten at the start of the 2014 school year at the town's three elementary schools.

"We're very excited about the prospects for our kids," Supt. Paul R. Lescault told The Valley Breeze & Observer in a telephone interview shortly after the School Committee at its Jan. 7 meeting approved the change by unanimous vote.

Cost will be minimal, according to Lescault and Assistant Supt. Lawrence P. Filippelli. The estimated $150,000 cost will almost be covered by $123,000 in savings realized when mid-day busing for kindergarten students is eliminated, they said.

The $150,000 cost represents the expenditure for three teachers to handle three sections of kindergarten, for a total of 60 students, at Hope, Clayville and North Scituate elementary schools. Lescault said he expects that children will be able to attend a kindergarten class close to their home, so youngsters will not be moved out of their neighborhoods.

"We try not to do that and we have never done that," he said.

The superintendent gave credit to School Committee member June H. Guglielmi, whom he said first came up with the idea of paying for all-day classes with funds saved by eliminating the half-day bus runs. No more than one month passed between the time the idea was broached and the time it was adopted, Lescault noted.

The School Department did offer all-day kindergarten once at one school at least five to seven years ago, Lescault said. New demands imposed by the nationwide Common Core Standards and other calls for higher student achievement mean that meeting kindergarten requirements can no longer be "squeezed into" a mere 2.5-hour class day, he noted.

In addition, more and more school districts are adding all-day kindergarten this year including Glocester, Woonsocket and possibly Smithfield. Cumberland and Lincoln began offering it, too, within the past four years.

"We need this to have our kids be competitive with other kids in the state," Lescault said. Encouragement from state and national education officials also played a role, he said, "very much so."

It is too soon to say if new teachers will have to be hired. Lescault said he will know in February when he works on potential layoffs for next year, noting that teachers slated for layoff could have kindergarten certifications that would save their jobs.

As for the curriculum, Filippelli said a committee made up of administrators and teachers will borrow from the kindergarten curricula used by other districts to fashion one for Scituate. "We're not going to re-invent the wheel," Lescault said.