By GAIL LOWE
WAKEFIELD — A discussion offering free full-day kindergarten in Wakefield will be front and center at tonight’s school board meeting.
Discussions will then continue at an informational meeting for parents on Thursday, Dec. 11 from 7 to 8:30 p.m. at the Woodville School on Farm Street.
The focus of the session will be to discuss the possibility of expanding early childhood options in the district to include free full-day kindergarten for the 2015-2016 academic year, said Superintendent of Schools Dr. Stephen K. Zrike.
Zrike said he has heard from many parents and staff that providing tuition-free kindergarten for all should be a priority for the district.
“Parents and staff felt strongly that with shifting academic expectations, coupled with the growing social and emotional needs of students, that all children deserved a full, robust and enriching kindergarten experience,” said Zrike.
“As more communities around the Commonwealth move to free kindergarten for all, many point to this being a significant disadvantage for our students,” he continued. “The School Committee has heard this feedback and has made the pursuit of tuition-free kindergarten one of their goals for the 2014-2015 school year.”
Currently 262 communities in Massachusetts offer free full-day kindergarten to students.
At the informational session on Dec. 11, teachers and administrators will share information about shifting expectations for students in early childhood, fiscal implications for offering tuition-free kindergarten and a potential timeline for implementation.
Zrike emphasized that the session is an “exploratory discussion” but one he is eager to launch.
Other topics on tonight’s school board agenda include SAT college and career readiness benchmarks, a STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) presentation, capital requests, approval of clerical job descriptions and acceptance of a gift.
Policies concerning homeless students and CORI checks also will be brought to the table.