Inter-Lakes board agrees to take a year to study full-day kindergarten

MEREDITH — All-day kindergarten in the Inter-Lakes School District will not begin until the 2015-16 school year, at the earliest.
The Inter-Lakes School Board concurred last night with Superintendent Mary Ellen Ormond's recommendation to give school administrators a year to study the effects an all-day kindergarten program would have.
The board did not take a formal vote on Ormond's recommendation. But board chairman Richard Hanson noted that no board members had any objection to the superintendent's proposal.
Two weeks ago the board held an open forum regarding all-day kindergarten. At that session, held in Center Harbor, public reaction to expanding kindergarten was mixed. Some favored the change, citing education and childcare benefits, while others questioned if such a move was the best way to improve early childhood education and development.
Last night Ormond requested the board's support to conduct a survey of parents whose children would likely be immediately affected by any change in the kindergarten program. She said she also wanted administrators to have time to confer with local day-care providers and also to explore various options that might be available to parents under whatever changes that might be approved.
"We need this year for examination and planning," she told the board.
The only reaction to Ormond's request came from board member Howard Cunningham of Sandwich who signaled disappointment at the superintendent's request for more time.
"My only comment is that every other district around is already there (with a full-day kindergarten program)," he said.
At the Center Harbor meeting some urged the board not to implement all-day kindergarten for the coming 2014-15 school year which would have meant including money for any costs involved in next year's school budget.
Board member Howard Cunningham of Sandwich announced that he would not be running for re-election. Cunningham called the decision a difficult one. He said he was announcing his decision four months before the school district election in hopes the advance notice would result in a pool of candidates.