By Chris Paul
Over the past year, the Kindergarten Committee has been developing a plan for moving forward with Full-Day Kindergarten, and how that would look for the school district if passed by the voters.
Last week, on Thursday, May 4, the group met and discussed a number of their findings and how to best present those findings to the School Board for their approval.
Londonderry Superintendent, Dan Black, and Principal of Moose Hill School, Sandra Mack, led the meeting, starting with a brief overview of what some of their findings have been, noting that what they’ve heard from the public is that people are in favor of moving the discussion of Full-Day Kindergarten forward.
Black noted that the district is behind the state and the country when it comes to Full-Day Kindergarten and providing this to the district would open up about 100 more school days for children and create a much stronger foundation for five-year-olds.
Ultimately, the recommendations the committee proposes would be left up to the School Board as to whether it makes it to the March ballot.
Black also went through the space needs of Moose Hill School, saying that it will be a big issue if the town chooses to move ahead with Full-Day Kindergarten. Adding that staff is already using closets and hallways for teaching, therapy, and counseling.
LEEP is also an issue Black said, the program continues to grow and takes up a lot of space.
Construction to Moose Hill would need to happen to accommodate these space issues but there were no numbers given on any of the design concepts.
Black and Mack also had a rough timeline given to them through the architects they’ve been working with. Black said, due to lack of laborers, Phase I construction would take about 16-months, while Phase II would add about 27-months.
Besides the overall space needs discussed, there was also an issue raised on making the front entrance safer and to create a better way for parents to drop off and pick up their children from Moose Hill.
There was a conceptual design presented at the meeting that showed about 25,000 square-feet of additional space created in Phase 1A and Phase 1B of the project.
Black was hoping that the Trident Group would be able to come up with some solid numbers to present to the School Board on May 23.
In Phase I of the plan, there would only be a need to add one custodian, but Phase II would require additional teachers and staff.
Black said there will be some hard numbers presented at the May 23 School Board meeting on staffing, which he said wouldn’t hit the operating budget for another four-years if approved by voters.
It was also stated that the ultimate goal of the committee at this point is to get the School Board’s approval to move forward with going to a construction manager in order to get detailed costs on the project and the board would then decide whether the plan would make it to a ballot.
Members of the committee, along with Black and Mack, are: Jeff Penta, Donna Traynham, Jeff Garside, Tony DeFrancesco, Amanda Longo, Nancy Hendricks, and Barbara Curro (who is also representing the kindergarten staff.)
Black stated after the meeting that the presentation should be ready for the public to view by May 19, prior to the School Board presenation on May 23.
Black added that this is part the tentative long range plan the School Board put in place through number conversations last Summer and Fall to prioritize the issues around the district.