Greenport School District

Greenport school board considering pre-K referendum for 2014-15

The Greenport school board discussed Wednesday creating a pre-K program for the 2014-15 school year.
The Greenport school board discussed Wednesday creating a pre-K program for the 2014-15 school year.

Greenport School District Superintendent Michael Comanda unveiled Wednesday more preliminary details about his proposed referendum to fund a pre-K program for the 2014-15 school year.

The estimated total cost, including transportation, is about $300,000, according to the superintendent’s presentation.

Mr. Comanda said the pre-K plan includes the district partnering with Alternatives for Children, a not-for-profit private school, to craft a full-day program that would mirror the kindergarten’s five-day schedule starting in September.

The pre-K proposal includes one teacher and one teacher aid per pre-K class, the superintendent said. At the March 19 school board meeting, Mr. Comanda is expected to discuss student enrollment projections and how much it would cost to fund between one and three pre-K classes next year. Each would have a maximum class size of 18 students, he said.

If voters approve the plan, Mr. Comanda said pre-K students would need to be four years old by Sept. 1, 2014.

Kindergartners would need to be five years old by Sept. 1, he added. The district’s current enrollment requirement for kindergarten is that students are five years old by Dec. 1.

School board vice president Dan Creedon said he’s in favor of a pre-K program because he believes it would be beneficial for students while reducing future costs for the district.

“It wouldn’t be $300,000 because more kids would be graduating on time and fewer kids would need remediation,” he said. “It would be less costly over the long run.”

Like the recent capital improvement and green energy bond projects, which voters approved in 2010, Mr. Comanda said he’d prefer to let the community decide the pre-K program’s fate instead of lumping it into the general fund.

“I just think it’s important that the community come out and say ‘yay’ or ‘nay’ to this as a whole because they are going to be supporting it,” he said. “Once you put it in, I don’t think you can get rid of it.”

Although the district has previously worked with SCOPE and Head Start’s pre-K programs, Mr. Comanda has described SCOPE as “cost prohibitive” to many residents and has questioned the longevity of Head Start given its current financial woes.

Scroll down to view Wednesday’s presentation.

Greenport Pre-K Preliminary Presentation, Feb. 12, 2014 (Photos taken by Jennifer Gustavson)