School officials initially created a $144,000 placeholder in their budget allotting for the all-day program next fall, but have since said the program will likely cost more than $144,000 — “significantly more,” said Barrington Schools Superintendent Michael Messore.
“We’re still looking at it,” Mr. Messore said. “It looks like we’re probably making an addition of two classes at Primrose Hill and Nayatt and maybe one at Sowams. … and there might be an increase in transportation costs.”
The Barrington School Committee will receive an update from the all-day kindergarten subcommittee during tonight’s meeting — set for 7:30 at the school committee room. The subcommittee will offer its official recommendation regarding all-day kindergarten at the school board meeting on May 16.
Mr. Messore said the move to all-day kindergarten is happening at school districts across Rhode Island, and that much of the decision is based on the ongoing implementation of the Common Core standards — a new curriculum for public schools.
He said the move to all-day kindergarten for some school districts has been made easier by drastic drops in student population.
Mr. Messore said that while Barrington has seen a decrease in student enrollment, it’s not to the degree of some other Rhode Island districts.
He’s also concerned that estimates for student increases because of the addition of all-day kindergarten could be lower than reality.
“We’re trying to base (our estimates) on the first and second grades,” Mr. Messore said. “Who knows for sure. … This makes me a little nervous.”
The superintendent said the full impact of adding an all-day program might not be felt until two years after the program is established. He said some parents have already registered their young sons and daughters for other kindergarten programs and may not enroll them in public schools for another year.
That said, some parents are still quite anxious to learn whether the district will add all-day kindergarten this year or next.
The answer may not be clear until the annual financial town meeting, which will be held on Wednesday, May 22 at 7 p.m. at the high school auditorium.
The possibility exists that school officials may hold off on adding the program for this fall because of financial constraints — at last check, members of the appropriations committee reduced the school budget request from $1.675 million to $900,000 — but that move could be trumped by anyone willing to file an amendment at the financial town meeting.
In prior years, residents have filed motions to add money back into the school budget; just recently a resident’s motion to add more than $100,000 back into the budget preserved an industrial arts teaching position at the middle school.