April 10, 2013

Kindergarten or security upgrades? For 2013-14, Gorham chooses security

Next year, funding for all-day kindergarten will be included in the budget "from the get-go," a school official says.

By Leslie Bridgers lbridgers@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

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:

lbridgers@pressherald.com

 

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