Free K – All-day kindergarten available to all families at no cost

The Winthrop School Committee voted to have free all-day kindergarten available for local students beginning at the start of the coming (2010-11) school year.

In essence, parents who had been paying $2,300 to send their children to the all-day kindergarten program will now be able to do so free of charge. All parents who have enrolled their children in the program for this year will have their deposits refunded.

By state law, Winthrop was required to offer half-day kindergarten for free. Winthrop has offered for a number of years full-day kindergarten for a fee of $2,300 per student.

Two-thirds of the communities in Massachusetts have been offering free full-day kindergarten programs.

Town Council President and School Committee member Jeffrey Turco said there are approximately 140 students enrolled in full-day kindergarten at the Gorman/Fort Banks School.

Turco said School Committee member William Holden was instrumental in bringing free full-day kindergarten to the town.

“This is happening in large part because of his leadership over the years,” said Turco.

The School Department must pay an up-front cost of approximately $390,000 to the state in order to have the state reimburse the town for its full-day kindergarten program in future years.

Turco said the town will use $207,000 from the kindergarten account and “re-prioritize” other funds in the budget to pay the up-front cost.

“Once we pay that up-front cost this year, then every year we’ll get more money back from the Commonwealth than we have to put up,” said Turco. “Next year we’ll collect between $2,500-$2,700 per student from the Commonwealth. Financially, it’s a huge win for the Winthrop school district starting next year.”

Two candidates will be interviewed for role as interim superintendent

The Winthrop School Committee will be interviewing two candidates for the position of interim school superintendent at a special meeting Friday at 5 p.m. at the Cummings School.

The interim superintendent will begin serving in the position for the start of the new school year, according to School Committee member Jeffrey Turco.

Superintendent of Schools Dr. Steve Jenkins is stepping down as superintendent on Dec. 31, 2010. Jenkins is on a medical leave for several weeks, necessitating the appointment of an interim superintendent of schools.

“Whomever we appoint this week will be the interim superintendent until such time as we appoint the permanent superintendent,” said Turco.

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