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Braintree could double its full-day kindergarten classrooms

Posted by Jessica Bartlett  February 14, 2013 04:54 PM

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The Braintree Public Schools are looking to add four or five classrooms for full-day kindergarten if enough parents commit to the program.

For the second year in a row, more than 200 parents said they would be interested in sending their child to the expanded program, although there were only 120 spots.

Braintree officials ran into further problems this year after discovering that bigger enrollment would push out one of the full-day programs at Flaherty Elementary, leaving only three classrooms at the high school for the program, one classroom at Morrison Elementary, and one classroom at Hollis Elementary.

Other options also proved problematic; opening all of Monatiquot School, half of which is currently leased out to a Montessori School, would be too expensive, and other closed schools in the region wouldn’t be big enough should they be opened.

During a Monday School Committee meeting, however, officials decided to only open up half of Monatiquot, bumping the program’s slots to 200 from 120.

Though voted on, parents will have to prove their interest with a $300 deposit by March 1 to get the program off its feet.

“We voted to move forward and pending on the need, there will be four to five [classrooms at Monatiquot]. A teacher and paraprofessional, no administration… it is a short-term solution,” said Shannon Hume, chairwoman of the School Committee.

Any specialists will travel between schools, Hume said, saving on costs.

The Montessori school will continue to lease out half the space, and its lease has been continued through the 2013-2014 school year.

According to Superintendent Peter Kurzberg, the administration has notified all parents who expressed an interest in the program of the deadline and the new direction.

“There is space technically for up to five classrooms, and we’ll see how many of those would fill up,” Kurzberg said. “We wouldn’t run the program if there was only one classroom. Ideally, we would have at least three classrooms at Monatiquot to run the program there, but I think we would run it with two as well, so we will have to see.”

Kurzberg said he is confident that though the operating cost would grow from $171,000 to $479,000, that the project would still be self-sufficient, bringing in enough revenue to account for any start up costs as well as the operating budget.

“We’re trying to meet the demand that has been expressed to offer full-day kindergarten program in the district, and I think right now we’re pleased we’ve been able to find at least a temporary solution that will allow us to do that for the upcoming school year.”

As far as a long-term solution to the growing space issue, Hume said the district is looking into modular classrooms to attach to one of the operating schools.

That process is still in the beginning stages, and wouldn’t be ready for the 2013-2014 school year, Hume said.

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