Lanesborough officials eye restoration of preschool program


LANESBOROUGH -- School officials are searching for ways to reinstate a preschool program after it was cut last year.

Discussion at this week's School Committee meeting focussed on two options: A community-based preschool program or one run by the outside agency Berkshire Children and Families.

"Across the board, there will always be administrative oversight to ensure that we're preparing the children in a program hosted in Lanesborough School, whoever it may be run by, and preparing them for academic integrity and preparing them for Kindergarten," said Kimberley Grady, director of Pupil Personnel Services.

The preschool program was eliminated last year after low enrollment for the 2013-14 school year and several years of deficits.

In recent months, the town's Early Childhood Committee and the Agency-based Pre-K Study Committee have researched restarting the program.

"We've learned a lot over the year on what the model needs to look like, what the curriculum must be, and communication for families," Grady said.

Either model would be housed in the Lanesborough Elementary School and still be required to work with Grady and other school officials for special education services.

A community-based program would be funded through the town, not the school. School Committee members favored this model because it would not affect the school's enrollment, which would increase the how much the district would pay for the shared administrative costs with Williamstown.

In addition, the community-based model wouldn't require the administrative cost associated with the agency-based model, estimated to be $12,000.

Some discussion focused on parents stating they were wary of sending their children to a preschool run by an outside agency. Members agreed more outreach was needed to learn parents concerns.

School Committee member noted that even four or five students not being signed up can hurt the program's numbers.

School Committee member Regina DiLego expressed support for the agency-based model, but stressed some families don't want to pay for a full-day program and would prefer a half-day.

School Committee Chairman Robert Barton said the committee could be poised to make a decision on what model to choose at its next meeting in late February or early March.

Due to a posting error, the committee did not discuss an agenda item regarding the intent to withdraw from School Union 71.

Barton said the only agenda posted at Town Hall included one item regarding the preschool discussion. An updated agenda, which also included discussion on School Union 71, was only posted at the school and online. The committee only learned of this Tuesday morning, he said.


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