GORHAM – Offering all-day kindergarten will be a priority of Gorham school officials – next year.
Additional funding for school security was a more pressing matter this year, said School Committee Chair Kyle Currier.
Next year, she said, funding for all-day kindergarten will be included in the budget “from the get-go.”
It was not included in the $32.9 million budget for fiscal 2014 that the School Committee unanimously approved on Wednesday. Instead, about $300,000 was added for building improvements, including more secure entrances and security cameras, to make the schools safer.
Also, the Town Council on Tuesday approved spending $245,000 on school security projects.
The school budget, which needs approval of the council and then voters at a referendum on June 11, would raise the tax rate by 93 cents per $1,000 of valuation. That would add $186 onto the property tax bill for a $200,000 home.
Since last budget season, a group of parents has been pushing school officials to expand the district’s kindergarten program from half-day to all-day.
Gorham is one of four districts in Cumberland and York counties that doesn’t offer all-day kindergarten.
The district formed a committee that started meeting last fall to study the possibility of implementing the change. The committee presented a report to school officials last month that did not recommend expanding the program because of the cost, which it estimated to be $555,000 in the first year and $502,000 in subsequent years.
Darryl Wright, a member of the School Committee and the kindergarten panel, said there isn’t enough time this year “to properly set up a high-quality program.”
Wright said he would support setting up an implementation committee for adding the program in the 2014-2015 school year to coincide with the adoption of common core standards — one reason all-day kindergarten supporters were pushing to expand the program.
“We’re obviously disappointed,” said Kelli Deveaux, one of parents in support of all-day kindergarten who attended the meeting Wednesday.
Still, another parent, Sarah Plummer, said the commitment to add the program the following year is encouraging.
“It’s a big step forward,” she said.
Leslie Bridgers can be contacted at 791-6364 or at: