Nashua full-day kindergarten plan gets pushback from school officials
NASHUA — There has been some pushback by a couple of school board members on the superintendent’s proposal to expand full-day kindergarten to every local elementary school this fall.
“All-day kindergarten, as it is set up, I am concerned that it uses standards that are inappropriate for kindergarten,” said Doris Hohensee, member of the Nashua Board of Education. “Our first-grade is pushed into kindergarten, and I am worried we are going to do damage to kids that are not ready by trying to teach them to read a year before they would normally learn to read.”
While Hohensee acknowledges that full-day kindergarten may provide some social benefits for children, and assist parents with child care, she said more resources are needed to help remediate existing students who are not reading or math proficient at select grade levels.
“I think this is the administration creating the policy and asking for approval. I think there has to be more deliberation,” Hohensee told her fellow board members during a recent budget meeting.
Superintendent Connie Brown is proposing to expand all-day kindergarten to every elementary school in the district. Her recommendation has been included in her nearly $106 million proposed budget for the next school year.
Currently, all-day kindergarten is offered at five schools in Nashua: Ledge Street, Mount Pleasant, Amherst, Dr. Crisp and Fairgrounds elementary schools.
Brown said the expansion of all-day kindergarten would provide a level playing field for all of the children in Nashua, and provide them with an even start to their education.
“The benefits of all-day kindergarten are well researched and documented. This will give students a solid foundation as they go down the road, and potentially reduce the amount of remediation and special education referrals,” said Brown.
Brown believes the school district can expand all-day kindergarten to all of its elementary schools using existing staff without any tuition or costs for parents, adding it can be a budget-neutral implementation.
“I highly recommend the board has an in-depth discussion on new items instead of just seeing them appear in the budget,” argued Hohensee.
Howard Coffman, school board member, said he still has problems with the budgetary process. His primary concern is making sure that the district has adequate remedial intervention resources available at each grade level and at each school to take care of students already enrolled.
“It is nice to bring in all-day kindergarten for the new kids, and that is supposed to help them, but I am concerned about the kids already in the district who need additional assistance who may not be getting it or need more,” said Coffman, explaining there could be budget implications to correct that issue.
Brown has scheduled a meeting Feb. 22 to highlight her proposed plan to school officials, which will also be presented to parents the following day.
Staff Reporter Doug Alden contributed to this report.