The Kingston pre-kindergarten center at the Meagher School is off to a quick start, with new students getting more acclimated by the day. School officials say they’re hoping to open pre-K by two more classrooms in January by way of a state grant.
The pre-K program at Meagher is currently four classes serving a total of 72 students. It counts among its languages spoken English, Spanish, Arabic, Punjabi, Urdu, Bengali and K’iche’, a Mayan language spoken largely in the central highlands of Guatemala. If the district is successful in its grant application, it will add another two classrooms and 36 students.
Superintendent Paul Padalino said the early success of the pre-K center at Meagher will likely play a key in the grant process, but so too will the district’s need. “We have to show, in fact, that there are still four-year-olds out there that need to be served, which we do have,” said Padalino on Tuesday. “We have the facility, we have the capacity, we have the need. We have a pretty strong application to have this expanded.”
Now two weeks into the school year, Padalino said the early wrinkles have mostly been ironed out. “Obviously there’s always a couple of hiccups,” he said. “The first couple of days of school,, whether it’s pre-calc or pre-K or you know, there’s always something going on. But having settled in, I think we’ve maneuvered around any potholes.”
Most of the students settled right in to their pre-K classes, Padalino said, though there were some transportation delays caused by tears from both children and parents. One crying child was held much of the first day of school by the district’s assistant superintendent for secondary education Stacia Felicello.
“That’s all part of the experience,” said Padalino during a meeting of the school board on September 4, officially the first day of the 2019-20 school year. “There were the usual first-day issues that, no matter how hard you plan or how much you try to time things, there’s always going to be those first couple of days it’s going to be those problems.”
Adding the new pre-K bus lines to an already byzantine network of transportation routes including seven elementary schools, two middle schools and Kingston High School was bound to take some time to find its rhythm. But after two weeks, things seem to be sailing smoothly on roads across the district. “We’re happy,” Padalino said.
The school board meeting on the first day of school was the last at the Cioni Building, the district’s longtime headquarters on Crown Street, sold to developer Neil Bender, who reportedly plans to turn the building into a boutique hotel and spa. The school board met for the first time in the new district headquarters at the Meagher School this Wednesday.
“I think the board has decided not to officially name the building other than Meagher,” said Padalino. “So we’re in the administrative section of Meagher, and then we have the pre-K section of Meagher.”
The next meeting of the school board is scheduled for Wednesday, October 2.