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Full-Day Kindergarten On the Table This Town Meeting Season

Woodley Wonderworks via Flickr CC

Town meeting season is upon us, and a number of school districts around the state are considering adding full day kindergarten.

Voters in Dunbarton will consider a 75 thousand dollar proposal to create a conditional full-day kindergarten program. Conditional meaning when enrollment in other grades leaves enough room for a kindergarten class.

Dunbarton’s half-day program has only eight students now, but school officials are confident that expanding to full-day will bring in students currently attending private full-day programs.

Clement Madden is a member of the Dunbarton school board.

“It’s a very modest proposal, we’re not asking for a moon shot," says Madden. "We’re trying to accommodate what we think would be best for the students without hammering on the tax rate.”

Meanwhile, Exeter School District is also looking at full-day kindergarten, though their proposal is bit less modest. Voters there will consider whether to OK a 5.4 million dollar addition to Main Street School to make room for a full-day kindergarten program.

“We’ve run a two-and-half hour half-day kindergarten program for many, many years and we’ve worked really hard to do what we can but it’s limited in what we can do," says Steve Adler, principle of Main Street School. "We’re working really hard to try and bring full-day kindergarten here to Exeter.”

Main Street School currently has 128 kindergartners.

Residents in Lyme already had their say on expanding to a tuition-based full-day program. Voters narrowly defeated the proposal, citing concerns that the tuition would disadvantage low-income families.

The number of full-day kindergarten programs in the state has been growing steadily over the last several years. But according to a recent study, just fifty-five percent of kindergarten aged students in New Hampshire were in full-day programs in 2013. That compared to the national average of around 75 percent.

Jason Moon is a senior reporter and producer on the Document team. He has created longform narrative podcast series on topics ranging from unsolved murders, to presidential elections, to secret lists of police officers.

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