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Old agreement, new kindergarten for Stark


October 28, 2009
LANCASTER—The Stark school board has made little change to the AREA agreement with Northumberland that will last for the next ten years, but talk of a new kindergarten and pre-school program is in the works.

"The agreement went back and forth, but there were only minor changes," said Patty Brown SAU 58 business manger. Mrs. Brown referred to the changes as updates in terminology that do not affect how the agreement will function any differently than it has in the past. Currently there are 37 students from Stark in seventh to twelfth grade and the yearly tuition per student is between $11,938 and $12,759.

Stark school board member Tom Bushey commented that initially the Stark board brought to Groveton the idea to have an AREA agreement where the tuition price would be locked at the beginning of the year. That would make it so Stark's budget would not be in dire straits if additional students were added in the middle of the year as has occurred in the past, but after further discussion the agreement's status quo was upheld.

"Groveton just wasn't that passionate about it," said Mr. Bushey.

At the Oct. 20 Stark School Board meeting Mr. Bushey noted that he asked for support in having Stark Principal Shelli Roberts conduct a study in establishing an all day kindergarten and half-day preschool.

"It would get kids into school earlier and studies have shown that it presents the best education," said Mr. Bushey, "especially for special needs students."

Mr. Bushey also noted that not having pre-elementary may hurt the town as "new families may not want to come here if that service is not provided."

The plan is to have the study first determine the financial feasibility and need for all day kindergarten and then look into pre-school.

Mr. Bushey also wanted to affirm to Stark residents that this is just an idea and if found feasible will be put before the town.

"Our goal is just to flesh out what is involved in accomplishing those two objectives and present it to the voters," he said, "we want to hear from the public."

According to Mr. Bushey the plan would be to utilize existing facilities including staff and does not foresee a resource problem as general enrollment has declined. He also mentioned that the study could potentially include a non-resident program.

Lastly, Mr. Bushey pointed out that Groveton and Stratford are looking into doing the same exact thing, as well, with an even younger age group.

Tiffany Eddy
Martin Lord Osman
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