The School Committee approved a plan on Monday night that will bring to three elementary schools next fall in addition to three at despite some pushback by members who argued the committee should spend more time exploring other options.
By a 4-2 vote, with Mayor Joseph Sullivan not present and Shannon Hume and Pam Kiley dissenting, the committee signed off on a $324,000 program that will be self-sustaining through tuition.
, the families of 163 students had submitted an application and $300 deposit. After matching up available space and requests – some wanted only BHS, or only their home schools – 119 students will be placed in full-day classrooms under the plan, with one open spot at the high school, Superintendent Dr. Peter Kurzberg said.
, and schools will each see one 20-student classroom, along with three similar-sized classrooms at BHS. Highlands will send 16 students to the high school program, Hollis two, 32 and nine.
"There's still some flexibility in the numbers," Dr. Kurzberg said, adding that students can also be placed on a waiting list. Last year, the composition of the 60-spot pilot program fluctuated significantly between its approval and implementation.
Dr. Kurzberg said the administration will be keeping an eye on any additional kindergartners who enter the system between now and September because half-day "class sizes cannot be compromised." As it stands, each elementary school would have two to three half-day classes with between 15 and 22 students each. Morrison's two classrooms are currently on the higher end, with 21 and 22 students, while Ross would have two 15-student classes.
Based on what was approved Monday night, the program would collect $3,000 in tuition from the families of 96 students and $1,500 from 24 reduced-pay students, totalling $324,000. Expenses will include $180,000 for additional teacher pay, nearly $56,000 for paraeducators, $61,000 for benefits and $15,300 for annual supplies, furniture, equipment and maintenance, among other costs.
Full-day kindergarten could be just as sustainable as a dedicated center at the Monatiquot School, member Pam Kiley said on Monday. Kiley has been behind full-day for some time, but said she was voting against this plan because "it's a bad move" to add more student hours to an .
"Really, it's the hardest vote I've had to take since I've been on the School Committee," she said.
Committee chair Hume also said she supports full-day kindergarten, but wanted to have two more weeks until the next meeting to perform "due diligence" and more fully examine the program.
But further delay does not make sense, Dr. Kurzberg said, because making any significant changes to the current plan would mean starting from scratch, as parents have only been notified during this process about the high school and home school possibilities.
"Is it perfect? I don't think anything we have is perfect," member Tom Devin said. "I believe it will keep growing."
Families will be notified about their placement by March 15. The next, $450 payment is due April 1, followed by $750 deposits in July, October and January. Deposits will be returned to families whose application requests were unable to be met by the administration.
The committee on Monday also approved an updated concussion program for the middle schools and high school, part of to better track head injuries and monitor student-athletes so they do not return to play prematurely.
It is an update to , which also includes IMPACT testing that creates a baseline of brain activity, allowing doctors, coaches and trainers to more safely bring a student-athlete back from a concussion. Parents must also complete related training before their children can sign up for athletics.
Braintree included training for teachers and other staff members in this year's plan, one of several updates that go beyond the standards set by the state Department of Public Health, Athletic Director Michael Denise said.