The families of nearly 200 incoming Braintree kindergarten students have said they would like to enroll their children in the full-day pilot program next fall, prompting school officials to examine whether it would be possible to open full-day kindergarten classes at each of the town's elementary schools, in addition to the three now operating at the high school.
Today the administration is holding a lottery for the 60 spots currently available at . Parents are not required to attend and will be notified afterward, Superintendent Dr. Peter Kurzberg said. Of the 326 students that registered by the deadline earlier this month for kindergarten next September, 191 are on the list for the full-day program .
Demand for full-day kindergarten has increased dramatically since the program was first created as two classrooms for 40 students at the high school. It was quickly expanded last year to three classrooms and the school system has maintained a waiting list of 12-15 students since then, Dr. Kurzberg said.
On Monday, Jan. 9, at the first School Committee meeting of the year, Dr. Kurzberg said . That number jumped to 191 by the end of the week. In an interview on Friday, the superintendent commended the parents who signed up last year and had confidence in the pilot program. He said the success of the operation so far this school year likely caused more parents to consider the option.
"We’ve gotten very good positive feedback," he said.
Full-day kindergarten at Braintree's elementary schools next fall is a real possibility, Dr. Kurzberg said, but right now remains uncertain and is largely dependent on how many families commit overall to the program and how many come from each school.
Four of Braintree's six elementary schools – Highlands, Hollis, Liberty and Morrison – currently have three sessions of half-day kindergarten. That structure, with one room used only half the day, could allow the flexibility to add full-day kindergarten at all six elementary schools with some shifting of classes and the three BHS sections remaining part of the mix as well. If the plan goes forward, today's lottery would help determine whether students find a spot at the high school or their elementary school, Dr. Kurzberg said.
The lottery will be followed by an informational meeting for parents on the evening of Feb. 9, which will most likely be held at . Families that signed up for half-day kindergarten have also been contacted to see if they might be interested in full-day if it was at their home schools. Tuition – $3,000 this year, along with a sliding scale for economic need – would still be charged if the program expanded to the elementary schools.
"As long as the interest is there," Dr. Kurzberg said, "we will do everything we can to provide the opportunities."
He added that opening another facility such as Monatiquot or Eldridge for the program – an idea pushed by some full-day proponents and in particular School Committee member Pam Kiley – would automatically mean using additional resources that may not be available.