2013-04-19 / Front Page

All day K comes to Cape Elizabeth

By Jack Flagler
Staff Writer

CAPE ELIZABETH — Cape Elizabeth will offer a fullday kindergarten program for the first time this fall for the 2013-2014 school year.

Cape Elizabeth Superintendent Meredith Nadeau detailed the pilot program at the board of education’s March 9 meeting. Next year, there will be two full- day kindergarten classes and four sections of half- day kindergarten. Currently, there are six half-day kindergarten classes at Pond Cove Elementary School.

Nadeau said kindergarten classes have trended toward full-day programs over the last two decades because of societal needs, as well as increasing evidence that shows full-day programs are more effective than half-day classes. Teachers are able to spend more time with students and deliver more personalized instruction, while students have fewer transitions to make throughout the day.

Cape Elizabeth was one of just two school districts in Cumberland County that did not offer all-day kindergarten in the 2012-2013 school year. The Gorham School Department was the other.

“If you don’t live in Cape Elizabeth, you would be shocked to learn that a school system such as ours that has such broad community support does not have full-day kindergarten,” said Michael Moore, vice chairman of the board.

Moore and his fellow board members supported the school district’s decision to offer the program, which will not require any additional funds from the proposed 2013-2014 school budget. Nadeau said school supplies are budgeted per student, so there will be no need for additional supplies despite the one extra classroom.

“I think this is an instance where we get to have our cake and eat it too, which is to offer something we think is necessary at no additional cost,” said board member David Hillman.

At a community forum in October, parents and residents in Cape Elizabeth brought up all-day kindergarten as their top priority for the upcoming school year. A month later, staff agreed the program would benefi t students and middle or working-class families in the community.

“As this program is fully implemented, we will see the reduction for special education referrals for students and a decreased need for literacy support for students moving through the elementary school years and beyond,” Nadeau said.

Despite advantages of the program, Nadeau warned the system will not be perfect as a pilot program in the fi rst year of its existence. Because space is limited, a lottery system will take effect for the two all-day classes. She anticipates the program will not be able to accommodate all the families interested in taking advantage.

“This isn’t ideal perhaps, but I think it is a prudent way to test this out, move it forward, fi nd out if this is something that has full community support and if it’s going to be effective for our children in our community,” Nadeau said.

“We wouldn’t be bringing it forward if we didn’t anticipate it would be.”

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