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Greenfield Public Schools

Stealth program

Greenfield school board surprised to learn about 2-year kindergarten

GREENFIELD ­— Greenfield School Committee members learned for the first time this week about a two-year developmental kindergarten program that the school department started in the fall.

Superintendent Susan Hollins said that administrators created the program, called “The Gift of Time,” for students who needed more time to develop before entering first grade. Instead of going through kindergarten and then being told they need to take it again, students can enter the two-year program and work their way up from a half-day to a full day of education.

Committee members said at a Wednesday meeting that they weren’t opposed to developmental programs, including preschool, but were upset that they hadn’t been told about it before. Member Maryelen Calderwood said she learned about it from parents who were unsure if they would have to pay tuition for the program.

Hollins said that Greenfield residents do not have to pay for the half-day classes but would need to pay for optional after-school child care. One student who choiced in from another district had to pay tuition for classes, she said.

Even if administrators suggested a child begin with the half-day program, any Greenfield students above the age of 5 are eligible to attend full-day kindergarten and can choose to do so, said Hollins. And parents of two students enrolled in the “The Gift of Time” decided to advance their children to first grade next year, she said.

Hollins said that the program was developed after a year of administrative planning. Students who enter first grade before they are ready may ultimately end up needing special instruction in the years to come, she said.

Students meet in a classroom at the Discovery School at Four Corners, Hollins told the board. They take the bus and eat meals with other students in the school.

Hollins said that administrators are planning for 17 students next year. School board members asked her to send them a full report on the program as soon as possible.

You can reach Chris Shores at: cshores@recorder.com, 413-772-0261, ext. 264, or on Twitter follow @RecorderShores

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