GROTON -- Full-time kindergarten may soon be free for youngsters in Groton and Dunstable.
A preliminary meeting Dec. 5 in the Groton-Dunstable Regional High School library drew more than 50 residents from both towns. It was one of two major changes for which the school hopes to gain community support.
The proposal was presented by Michael Knight, district business manager, while Superintendent Laura Chesson, committee members, teachers and parents looked on. The plan calls for the elimination of half-day kindergarten and the implementation of full-day care for district youngsters.
In a letter written by teachers, the benefits of such a change were outlined. Among the advantages the teachers cite are: social development, more practice time on skills and learning, explore activities in depth, and a more well-rounded experience. Primarily, according to the letter, "it allows for time needed to support the new standards."
The higher expectations under the state frameworks is not a realistic goal in part-time attendance. "The curriculum is designed for a full day of school," the letter explains.
Many residents support the plan. "Even if taxes increase, it's worth it for the kids," said Groton resident and parent Erin Moylan. "Full-day kindergarten better prepares them for first grade." There is also the notion that full-day kindergarten would help meet the needs of working families, the letter states.
Half-day kindergarten is free. Parents pay $5,000 per student for full-day kindergarten, higher than the state average of $3,800, according to Knight.
But much of that expense will be offset by the consequential reduction of existing costs, such as mid-day bus runs that will no longer be needed.
The second item on the agenda is that of changing start times for the schools, one time for high school and another for middle-school. One resident expressed concern about two morning, and two afternoon bus runs, saying that it would clog up local roadways for commuters traveling to and from work.