March 26, 2013

Gorham kindergarten panel to report findings

By Leslie Bridgers lbridgers@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

GORHAM — A long-awaited report on expanding kindergarten in Gorham from a half-day to a full-day program will be unveiled at a school board workshop on Wednesday.

The committee that compiled the report has been studying the possibility of full-day kindergarten since the fall.

Dennis Libby, a school board member and the chairman of the kindergarten committee, refused to release the report or discuss its findings Monday. Howewer, a post on the Facebook page of a group that supports all-day kindergarten suggests that the committee will recommend against funding the proposal.

Last year, the same group pushed school and town officials, and then voters, not to pass a school budget unless it included all-day kindergarten. The effort was unsuccessful, but school officials agreed to form a committee to study the possibility.

The group, called Gorham All Day Kindergarten for All Kids, posted on its Facebook page Saturday that the kindergarten committee will make a presentation Wednesday that says extending the program "is an okay idea, but we can't afford it." A message sent to the group Monday was not returned.

The Portland Press Herald on Monday requested a copy of the report under the Maine right-to-know law. The request had not been fulfilled by press time.

Superintendent Ted Sharp did not include funding for the program in his proposed $32.6 million budget, which would raise taxes 66 cents per $1,000 of valuation. Last year, school officials said extending the program would cost about $400,000, which would have raised the tax rate by 31 cents.

Hollis Cobb, the school department's finance officer, said Monday she did not know what the kindergarten committee was going to recommend, so she had not calculated the possible effect on the tax rate this year.

Gorham is one of four school districts in Cumberland and York counties that don't offer a full-day kindergarten program.

Currently, the 171 kindergartners in Gorham's three elementary schools attend a half-day program, either in the morning or the afternoon. Pupils who are behind their peers academically or in maturity level can attend an extended-day program. The district also offers a summer program to keep students performing at grade level.

Sharp has said he believes the program is working well, as is.

There will be no opportunity for public comment Wednesday at the school board workshop, which is scheduled to start at 7 p.m. in the Gorham Municipal Center. A public hearing on the proposed budget will be in the same place on April 3, starting at 6:30 p.m.

 

Staff Writer Leslie Bridgers can be contacted at: 791-6364 or at
lbridgers@pressherald.com

 

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