By Amy Patton
“We want to make it clear that this is a solid educational experience,” stressed Bridgehampton School Superintendent Dr. Lois Favre, referring to the school board’s decision last week to provide the option for parents to send their three-year-old children into a full-day pre-school this fall.
Up until this point, the Pre-K 3 students in past years would start the day at 8:30 a.m. and be picked up by parents or caregivers at 11:30 p.m.
As for the newly offered schedule, Favre said, “We believe it’s a win-win for both parents and families; especially for working parents who find it difficult to transport their kids in the middle of the day.”
However, the superintendent emphasized during the board’s business meeting last Wednesday, “This is not a babysitting service. Parents should be aware that it’s not a day care. There’s real learning going on.”
Currently at the Bridgehampton School, the preschool program that educates four year-olds in the district— as well as non-residents on a tuition basis—is a full day experience for students that runs from 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Friday.
School board president Ronald White said the decision to expand the hours for the district’s youngest students was based on two factors: parents’ requests for more time in the classroom for their little ones and also teacher recommendations.
“The preschool children whose families have been signing up for the past few years are very advanced, very smart and very aware kids,” White said. “Although we have concerns about students that young being able to handle the full day, [the board] thought about it and has decided to give it a shot this year.”
So far, noted Favre, there are four Pre-K 3 children enrolled in the school’s 2013-2014 program along with ten four year-old preschool students. Both groups will share a classroom and teacher.
“But we are anticipating more,” added Dr. Favre.
Out-of-district non-residents who wish to enroll their kids in the Bridgehampton School’s Pre-K curriculum won’t face a tuition hike, assured Favre, as a result of the new option. Subject to available space, the cost is $2,500 per school year for the three year old class , regardless, she said, if the families opt for a full or half-day of learning and supervision.
Also, added White, there are no extra budgetary funds associated with the new Pre-K 3 offering.
“The teachers are already there for the full day. So this program costs the district nothing more,” he said.
Bridgehampton School Board member Jennifer Vinski, whose own daughter is three years-old and will be a student in the preschool this fall, said she’s opting now for the half-day program for her child but is considering switching her mid-year.
“It’s an individual decision for families,” she said. “I think for working parents it can be the right opportunity.”
The Bridgehampton School’s preschool program has been a tradition at the learning institution for more than 10 years.
“Increasing the time allotment for Pre-K 3 will still be a choice for parents as to their children coming for a full or half-day,” said Dr. Favre. “In light of all the demands for the development of learning skills, we believe this will be a move in the right direction for our students.”