Superintendent Proposes Full-Day Kindergarten to School Board

Londonderry School District Superintendent, Scott Laliberte, presented an update of the Facilities Study Committee, regarding full-day kindergarten programs in Londonderry during the recent School Board meeting on April 2.
The current Londonderry kindergarten program is a half-day program at Moose Hill School and has morning and afternoon, two hour and 35 minutes sessions. With the addition of 16 minutes to next year’s school schedule, thanks to the Collective Bargaining Agreement that was recently signed with the district’s teachers, those sessions will become two hours and 43 minutes long, with the first one running from 8:37 a.m. to 11:20 a.m. and the second one beginning at 12:30 p.m. and lasting until 3:13 p.m.
Economic development in the area, and a growth in state support and interest and enrollment and town competition were presented as “Outside Londonderry” reasons as to why the discussion about full-day kindergarten programs is necessary right now.

New and current residents with young children, who inquire regularly as to the district’s position on full-day kindergarten program was one of the “Inside Londonderry” reasons, next to the need to plan ahead, as there will be a significance need for space if the district is to add this kind of program. A Long-term Space Needs study is already underway for that reason.
In 2009, New Hampshire became the 50th state in the country to require a kindergarten program. The current kindergarten curriculum in Londonderry focuses on Emergent Literacy and Numeracy, with a play-based component.
The challenge to the program is the developmental and academic range of abilities at which the local students enter the kindergarten program.
Another challenge is the national and state curriculum shifts.
Laliberte presented some of the full-day program’s advantages and disadvantages to a half-day program. Some of the advantages would be a higher achievement for students that come from low-income families, higher reading scores in early grades and more time for individual instruction, independent reading, free play and socialization and interaction with children and adults, as well as access to breakfast and lunch.
On the other hand, the full-day program critiques claim that it gives less time for informal learning, focuses less on learn-by-doing, has no long-term academic benefits and causes separation anxiety, while increasing fatigue, irritability and aggression among the children.
The committee’s study found that the current Moose Hill building would not be able to accommodate a full-day program. The needed changes in order to allow that would be the addition of a lunch room and kitchen facilities; an indoor activity space (Such as a multipurpose room, a gym, etc.); the hiring of “Specialists”, as classroom teachers require prep and lunch; A Dedicated Library Media Center space that would free up a classroom and provide a long-term solution.
Mr. Laliberte ended the presentation by giving the School Board members matters of discussion going forward. Is the district interested in pursuing any further research regarding a change to the current kindergarten structure and if so are there specific models that are of interest and what information can the administrators provide to inform the discussion.

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