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Parents Learn Full-Day Kindergarten Details, Question Expansion Possibilities

School officials plan to have a more finalized vision for Braintree FDK by the end of February.

With the ongoing discussions among school officials about how to provide more than the three full-day kindergarten classrooms at Braintree High School next year have come questions from parents about how that will affect the waitlists at each elementary school.

During Monday night's full-day kindergarten information meeting at East Middle School, parents learned about the curriculum, transportation details, who their teachers might be and when tuition payments are required.

Several also asked what would happen if home school full-day classrooms opened at Hollis and Morrison schools, as Superintendent Dr. Peter Kurzberg said is possible depending on enrollment projections. He also mentioned that the school department is working on having at least six full-day classes next year, the same amount as this year.

Parents said it would be unfair if space opened up at Braintree High because of home school classrooms opening and students were pulled from schools based on priorities set by the school department rather than on the wait list created by the full-day kindergarten lottery.

A total of 226 students entered the lottery, with Liberty (50) and Morrison (49) leading the number of entrants. Following were Flaherty and Hollis with 36 each, Highlands with 32 and Ross with 23.

Ten students were selected from each school to fill the 60 spots at BHS, though Dr. Kurzberg said there has already been some shifting as parents changed their minds. He said that the priority should be to reduce class sizes in general at the elementary level.

For example, shifting some students slated for BHS to those schools could then open space for more Liberty students at the high school and in turn reduce fifth grade class sizes at Liberty, which are projected to reach 25 and 26 students.

"We are looking to balance large class sizes in some of our other schools," Dr. Kurzberg said. "Our schools are really bulging. We are looking at ways to add some additional space."

The superintendent said that nothing is final yet on space for next year, but that there should be more concrete information available by the end of February. The School Committee voted last week to study space proposals more in-depth over the next few weeks.

By March 1, those interested in full-day kindergarten must submit a $300 deposit. The remaining $450 of the first quarter payment is due April 1, followed by $750 payments on July 1, October 1 and January 15, 2014. That is based on full tuition. Those who qualify for free or reduced lunch receive a 50 percent discount.

The main difference between full-day kindergarten and half-day, Principal Dr. Nancy Pelletier said, is the extra time full-day students have for practicing their skills.

The program runs from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. and parents must transport students themselves. There are three FDK teachers at the high school, one for each class, along with three paraeducators and one nurse. Students are provided recess, lunch and snack time.

Families will have a chance to view the BHS classrooms on Feb. 25 at 3:30 p.m. and Feb. 26 at 7 p.m. If the program moves into home schools next year, viewings will be available at those schools as well.

For more on possible full-day kindergarten expansion next year, go to http://braintree.patch.com/articles/full-day-kindergarten-could-see-more-space-for-fall-2013.

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