Bilingual pre-k classes on the way in Kingston

Meagher Elementary School (file photo by Will Dendis)

While the KCSD has yet to announce a closing date for the sale of its headquarters in the Cioni Building on Crown Street, the future of the former Frank L. Meagher Elementary School is continuing to take shape.

Plans for Meagher include housing district offices along with a pre-kindergarten hub. It was revealed during last week’s school board meeting that the latter would include two classrooms where lessons in both Spanish and English are taught beginning with the 2019-20 school year. The current configuration of the Meagher space for its first year includes a total of four pre-k classrooms with a maximum of 18 students in each. Two more pre-k classrooms at Meagher are also in the plans, though it’s unclear when they would open.

According to school officials, the classes would be taught in Spanish and English on alternating days, an immersive experience designed to help kids become bilingual at an early age. There are currently two pre-k classrooms in the district, with over a dozen program providers helping meet the needs of 265 pre-k students, a state-funded initiative. The demand, said Superintendent Paul Padalino, is expected to grow.

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“When we look at our live birth and enrollment projections, in 2015 we had 580 live births; in 2016, 582; in 2017, 585,” said Padalino. “These are the students we’re going to be seeing coming in 2019 and beyond into our schools, [and] maybe we can serve more of those students, those 4-year-olds, with the new center.”

In April, the district received the first review of architectural plans for Meagher from the New York State Education Department, giving school officials hope that they’ll be able to break ground on the project this summer and move their headquarters there from Cioni by September 2019. The cost of renovating Meagher has been estimated at $4.23 million, with any work dedicated to classroom or other academic space eligible for state aid. Last week, Padalino said the state Education Department has approved the plans, and the district is looking to open bidding sometime this month.

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