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Ballston Spa adopts full-day kindergarten

Starting in September, the Ballston Spa Central School District will offer a full-day kindergarten program.

Thanks to a grant from the state Department of Education, Milton Terrace Primary Center will open its doors to nearly 300 full-day kindergarten students in the fall. The grant, provided to schools in the state that offered half-day kindergarten for two years and plan to transition to full days in September, will help to cover the costs of hiring more staff and purchasing furniture.

Superintendent Raymond Coluciello said there would be a minimal effect on the local budget.

In a unanimous vote, the board of education decided to sign a letter of intent to proceed with the grant funding and implementation of the program.

Although the school already planned to implement a full-day kindergarten program eventually, the grant was like winning the lottery, said Colucciello. He said before receiving the grant proposal, the school was unsure of its ability to execute a full-day kindergarten program.

Milton Terrace Primary School Principal Joseph Lopez said full-day kindergarten would add about the equivalent of 90 days instruction and allow more education in the humanities.

Antonietta Schroeder, chairwoman of the Kindergarten Task Force and Milton Terrace Primary Center assistant principal, said the task force, which offered the board its recommendations at the Wednesday, Jan. 9 meeting, will continue to look into configuring the school to serve students in kindergarten through fifth grade.

Plans to accommodate the eight classrooms needed to house the full-day kindergarten program include moving the school's north library to an area referred to as the "museum," which is currently used as a meeting space for the school.

In implementing the program, the district would also have to take four of the seven rooms from the Saratoga County Head Start program, which operates from the Milton Terrace Primary Center.

"I think it definitely is going to affect our program," said Pam Dray, program director for Saratoga County Head Start of the full-day kindergarten program.

However, she said, the administration seems supportive of the Head Start program.

"They seem committed to keeping the Head Start program in their building," Dray said.""

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