It’s a New Day for the Education of Litchfield’s Kindergarten Students
‘When you focus on kids early, childhood education pays off down the road.’ Gov. Chris Sununu
September 14, 2018
by Doug Robinson
Governor Chris Sununu joined students, parents, educators, school administrators, as well as office and maintenance staff to kick-off and celebrate in a big way the Litchfield School District’s ribbon-cutting dedication of their new full-day kindergarten.
Together, as a community, all worked with the state with what Governor Sununu described as a “model for other communities in the State of New Hampshire.” What had been voted and approved by the voters of Litchfield only a few short months ago at the ballot box had now become a reality.
Griffin Memorial School Principal Scott Thompson said, “I am thrilled to be able to offer full-day kindergarten to all Litchfield students and we think it will go a long way towards preparing students for first grade.”
He continued, “Today’s ceremony is really about our new full-day kindergarten students. Before today, the largest kindergarten class we’ve had at GMS was eight years ago, when we had 77 students. At 80 strong, this is the biggest kindergarten class we have ever had at GMS.”
Presently, 87.2 percent of towns in New Hampshire offer full-day kindergarten.
Litchfield has provided half-day kindergarten for many years. But now, with the new funding opportunities created by the “Keno Bill” Litchfield is in a position where the full-day kindergarten is a reality for their community.
“A strong foundation in the early years increases the probability of positive outcomes” states the NH Board of Education’s 2011 Early Learning statement. Whereas the half-day kindergarten provided 450 hours of education, the full-day kindergarten program increased the students’ learning time to 1,080 hours during the school year.
When asked of Gov. Sununu what drove his passion to provide full-day kindergarten to all communities within the State of New Hampshire, he simply stated, “It’s not fair for one community to provide kindergarten to their community, and not for another. The Keno Bill affords us that opportunity to make it fair and level for everyone in every town of New Hampshire” by funding a minimum of $1,100 per student. These funds are in addition to the $1,818 funding from the State of NH.
Both Litchfield School Board and Budget Committee voted unanimously to Article 2, requesting the voters’ support of a full-day kindergarten. The kindergarten’s Mission Statement is “To provide rigorous and varied educational opportunities that engage all students to attain their highest level of intellectual, social, physical, and emotional growth.”
The “kindergarten quad,” consisting of four mobile classrooms, houses the 80 students divided up into one of the four portable classrooms. Each classroom measures approximately 1,000 square feet, with double doors, key fob security entry, and a bathroom.
In addition, the classrooms have interactive white boards, wireless internet, and are fully furnished as well as outfitted for the start of school. During the group tour of the classrooms, Gov. Sununu stated, “This classroom is the definition of awesome. It has all the bells and whistles.”
He also stated, “The investments made today will give New Hampshire’s children a strong foundation for tomorrow’s future. I am proud to be the first governor to deliver a really full-day kindergarten program for communities across our state, which will close the opportunity gap and provide students, regardless of their economic status, an extra step up as they enter the first grade. Full-day kindergarten is good for children and families and a critical tool in retaining our future workforce.”
Principal Thompson stated, “There were many forces which came together to make this building and program a reality. We would like, first, to thank Gov. Sununu and the State of New Hampshire for providing extra funding to help our town pay for full day kindergarten. We thank the School Board, our Superintendent, and the Litchfield voters, of course. We thank our office and maintenance staff, our teachers, paras and the families of our teachers, for giving this building their full attention this summer in order to have it ready by Sept. 4. We truly believe that full-day kindergarten is going to make a difference in children’s lives.”