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.”
At Timberlane and Hampstead, superintendent Earl Metzler has decided he wants to pursue all-day kindergarten, but officials are still trying to iron out the details.
“We are going to look and see if we are able to budget it,” Metzler said. “If that’s unable to happen, then it will be a fee-based program.”
At Sanborn, they switched to full-time kindergarten districtwide this year.
“We put it in the budget last year, and were able to accommodate it through staffing changes,” superintendent Brian Blake said. “By also cutting out the midday bus routes, money that would have gone for transportation is now going toward our staff.”
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.
Metzler said the reaction he’s gotten from parents has been overwhelmingly positive.
“Lots of young parents are excited about this,” he said. “To be able to have their kids in school all day is a big benefit to them.”
It’s something that could even attract families to a district.