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Study underway to house all pre-K students at Jefferson School


August 30, 2012
WHITEFIELD — Although no changes would be made during the current 2012-2013 school year at the Jefferson Elementary School, a study is already underway to see if it would be both feasible and advantageous to hold all the WMRSD's pre-Kindergarten classes for three- and four-year-olds in the small school building on Route 115A.

If this plan were to move forward in 2013-2014 as is being studied, the facility would also house an all-day kindergarten and grades 1, 2, and 3, primarily to serve Jefferson youngsters.

"The advantage would be for the District to be able to provide all pre-Kindergarten services in one building," explained SAU #36 facilities subcommittee chairman Jim Brady of Jefferson. "Right now, specialists have to go between the Whitefield and Lancaster Elementary Schools."

The minutes of the Aug. 9 subcommittee point out that a changed use for the school that would provide a single location for all the District's pre-Kindergarten students, plus kindergarten-to-grade-3 students by 2013-2014 "would ensure its survivability and use the entire existing footprint."

The minutes also point to the "uncertainty" of such a change. Nonetheless, District Buildings and Grounds Director Rick Vashaw reported that he has budgeted $20,000 to make the shift so the Jefferson School could function as the District's only pre-Kindergarten program.

Pre-K is required for all special education students and is offered to nearly all other four-year-olds for varying lengths of time each week during the school year.

On May 29, a total of 72 District students were enrolled in the District's pre-K classes.

Pre-K students would come from all five District towns. Although Brady said that neither busing costs nor distances have yet been calculated, Google Maps lists the distance from the Dalton Municipal Building — the former Dalton Elementary School — and the Jefferson School as between 19 and 21 miles, depending on the route chosen. Without any stops, the online service estimated that the trip would take 25 to 30 minutes, one-way.

At its Aug. 9 meeting, the facilities subcommittee also discussed the possibility of installing a pellet-burning system to replace the current oil-burning boiler that consumes about 6,000 gallons a year. Switching to pellets could reduce costs by some 40 percent.

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