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Vote Ahead on Monatiquot School as Kindergarten Center

Two classrooms of Braintree full-day kindergarteners are currently at Monatiquot School.

Braintree Public Schools.
Braintree Public Schools.
The Braintree School Committee could decide as early as Monday whether or not to open Monatiquot School as a kindergarten center starting in fall 2014.

Committee Chair Shannon Hume, meeting with the School Building Committee Tuesday, said the item would be on the agenda Dec. 9 and that committee members should act quickly to give parents time to prepare for next year.

"Ideally we'd have kindergarten in the home schools," Hume said. "But in the short-term we need to do something."

Kindergarten letters typically go out in November but were held back to allow time for the committee's decision, Superintendent Dr. Maureen Murray said. Once those letter are sent and returned, the school department will have a better idea of demand.

Monatiquot currently houses two full-day kindergarten classrooms in the portion of the Brow Avenue building not used by Meeting House Montessori, which has a lease ending June 30, 2014.

Completely re-opening the former Braintree elementary school would add 12 classrooms, whether for half- and full-day kindergarten only or for students in grades 1-5. 

Both options come with challenges.

Using Monatiquot as an elementary school would mean re-districting, while a kindergarten center would mean transportation and transition issues as students are bused in from various neighborhoods.

Under the kindergarten center plan, one classroom each would be freed at Flaherty, Hollis, Liberty and Ross. Three classrooms would open at Morrison and two at Highlands.

"That would obviously ease some class size issues in all of our elementary schools," Mayor Joseph Sullivan said.

Those numbers could shift depending on how full-day kindergarten shapes up, Hume said. 

This year, Hollis and Morrison each have one full-day classroom and Braintree High School contains three. The BHS classes could potentially be rolled into Monatiquot, or could remain at the high school for another year, Dr. Murray said.

Regardless of the makeup of Monatiquot next year, renovations will likely cost $167,000, Business Manager Peter Kress said. Another approximately $637,000 would be spent annually on operations.

School maintenance and outside contractors could begin work this spring on the portion of the building not being used by Montessori. The remaining work would begin in July.

"We'll move as quickly as we can," Kress said. "I'm not expecting any difficulty in being on time."

Re-opening the school is a "good option at a fair price," Sullivan said, while acknowledging the town should start looking ahead to a more comprehensive, master plan for the school department.

"Opening Monatiquot gives us the [short-term] relief we need," the mayor said.

kerry December 04, 2013 at 09:05 AM
I think the decision was made when they decided to end the lease with the Montessori school. A proper vote should include a short and long term school space plan. I have yet to find a town in MA that offers a kindergarten center and charges tuition. And I still believe modulars are a flexible and temporary option for our schools.
carol ruplenas March 26, 2014 at 04:12 PM
Hi, Kerry, Tuition isn't charged because a school is a K. center. Typically systems charge families who take advantage of a full day program tuition, but not so for families whose students attends a typical Kindergarten half day. It is my understanding that this is what Braintree is doing. I do agree that it always seems to be the kindergartens that are affected when there is a space shortage. However, at the Eldgrige center some years back seemed to work very well. Schools can't do effective long term plans because the student population and also state funding varies, often significantly, from year to year. All in all, Braintree is a good and well run system in my opinion.

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