Longmeadow parents at odds with school system over kindergarten - CBS 3 Springfield - WSHM

Longmeadow parents at odds with school system over kindergarten

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LONGMEADOW, MA (WSHM) -

The core curriculum for kindergartners in town is changing.

Those changes are leading school officials to alter the way they are approaching the program, and that is upsetting some parents.

"It's not that we're looking for kindergarten to be free," said Stephanie Jasmin, who has lived in Longmeadow for the past 12 years.

Jasmin has had two children go through the town's kindergarten program with two more set to do so over the next few years.

Until now, the town offered a free half-day kindergarten where the curriculum was considered equal with the full-day program, which would cost parents just more than $4,000 for the year.

Beginning next school year, officials said the curriculum will change, with the free half-day no longer being equal. Last month, the school committee voted to reduce the full-day price to $3,000 and no longer make it a lottery system.

"We're offering a program that, although it is a tuition-based program, we have a 25 percent reduction in the cost of that program," said Michael Clark, chair of the school committee. "And we're expanding it so that every single person who wants their child in the program has that opportunity."

Clark told CBS 3 that the free full-day was the only kindergarten committee recommendation the school committee did not approve.

Superintendent Marie Doyle said it was an issue with which the committee wrestled.

"The school committee really struggled with the decision to charge a fee," said Doyle. "If they had the money to do it, they certainly would have done it where nobody was charged a fee."

That is something that does not sit well with Jasmin.

"In addition to requiring a $600 deposit in less than one month's time from the parents, if they don't get that by Feb. 28, the child is not guaranteed placement in their home school," Jasmin stated.

Clark said they would work discreetly with any family to make sure their child is able to attend the full-day session.

Jasmin wants the committee to look at the numbers again before approving their budget on Monday night.

Clark said free full-day kindergarten would cost the town another $400,000, when they are already projecting a $350,000 deficit.

The Longmeadow School Committee will meet Monday night at 7 p.m. at Longmeadow High School.

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