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Saturday, October 15, 2016

Milford’s full-day kindergarten proposal may expand

By Kathy Cleveland
Staff Writer

MILFORD - Last month, school officials proposed a tuition-based, full-day kindergarten program for 32 children.

Now, they're considering a plan that would accommodate more than twice as many 5-year-olds and would be partly self-
funded. ...

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MILFORD - Last month, school officials proposed a tuition-based, full-day kindergarten program for 32 children.

Now, they're considering a plan that would accommodate more than twice as many 5-year-olds and would be partly self-
funded.

Schools Superintendent Robert Marquis told the Milford School Board recently that based on feedback from parents, he is proposing a maximum of 80 students. The additional students would mean a total program cost of $263,000, with about $75,000 of that paid by taxpayers.

Most parents would pay about $350 a month, and about 25 children who are eligible for free or reduced-price lunch would have their tuition subsidized by taxpayers.

"Inequity is no longer an issue" under the new plan, Marquis said.

He and some school board members had been concerned that it would be unfair if some children could take advantage of the longer school day, and others whose parents couldn't afford it would not be able to attend.

Board Chairman Paul Dargie said he liked the new plan, but he doesn't want parents who pay tuition to have to pay for the subsidized students.

Costs would be included in a warrant article next March, and if the article is voted down, there will be no full-day kindergarten.

"That's the downside of a separate warrant article," Dargie said. "No means no."

Traffic at the Bales and Jacques schools concerns Marquis.

"While we will provide transportation, there will still be parents" who will drive their children to school and pick them up after school, he said.

Dargie said they will flesh out the plan and its costs during the board's first meeting in November.

There would be five classes, with a maximum of 16 children in each session at Jacques Memorial School, and each would run at the same time as first grade: 8:25 a.m.-2:45 p.m.

While students in both full- and half-day sessions will receive the same math, reading and writing instruction, full-day students will also have lunch and outdoor play in their schedules, as well as dramatic play and projects intended to enrich their academic learning. Art, music and physical education could also be part of their day, according to a School District handout.