, Derry, New Hampshire

October 17, 2013

Full-day kindergarten options vary

By Alex Lippa

---- — In 2009, New Hampshire became the last state in the nation to mandate public schools offer kindergarten. Now, some districts are taking it a step farther.

Full-day kindergarten is being explored in several districts, but some districts already offer it.

“We believe it’s been a successful program, based on student scores,” Derry superintendent Laura Nelson said. “We believe the students have shown improvement since we started it.”

Derry has offered full-day kindergarten at each of its elementary schools since 2011. Parents pay $3,500 each year to send their kids to school for the entire day.

“We aren’t looking for it to be a money-maker,” Nelson said. “We are just charging enough for it to be self-funded.”

Nelson said switching to district-wide full-day kindergarten isn’t being considered right now.

“We are very pleased with being able to provide options for parents,” she said.

For some districts, the cost is prohibitive. Londonderry superintendent Nate Greenberg said it would just be too expensive.

“We’d be pushing about $480,000 in staffing costs,” he said. “We would have to hire six additional teachers and assistants. We’d have to increase our special education and reading staff. Moose Hill School, which is our standalone kindergarten building, also doesn’t have a cafeteria, so we would have to look at what to do for lunch.”

Greenberg said the district has a partnership with the Londonderry YMCA for a program which complements the kindergarten offered at Moose Hill.