PITTSFIELD -- The School Committee will accept additional comments from the public on a change in the minimum age for a child entering kindergarten prior to a final vote on the new policy on March 12, Chairwoman Katherine Yon said this week.

At that time, the committee is scheduled to take a required second vote on a new policy approved unanimously Feb. 12 on a first reading. The change would be to require that all children entering kindergarten be 5 years of age by Sept. 1 of that school year.

However, to lessen the impact on families with children approaching kindergarten age, those who are 5 years old as of Oct. 15, 2015, would be allowed to start kindergarten during the 2015-16 school year

For the 2016-17 school year and afterward, students will have to be 5 by Sept. 1.

The current policy, which allows children as young as 4 years, 9 months to begin school, has drawn criticism from educators who say younger students often get off to a poor start in school, and some never recover academically or socially.

Yon also took exception to a recent column in The Eagle that was critical of the plan. She said those who work with the children and others with experience in the field of early childhood education have recommended giving children longer to mature before beginning school.

Those children affected by the change, estimated to number 60 to 65 in the first year, also will be offered full-day preschool until the change is fully implemented.

Currently, a youngster who is 5 by Dec.


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1 can enter kindergarten in the Pittsfield schools. However, 93 percent of school districts in the state with kindergartens require a child to be 5 by either Aug. 31 or Sept. 1 of the coming school year.

To reach Jim Therrien:

jtherrien@berkshireeagle.com,

or (413) 496-6247

On Twitter: @BE_therrien