Policy on Nashua kindergarten early enrollment pondered
By BENJAMIN C. KLEIN Union Leader Correspondent
NASHUA - After hearing an impassioned plea from two parents who want their child to enroll in kindergarten early, the Board of Education instructed Superintendent Mark Conrad to look into whether the district should create a policy on early enrollment.
The absence of a policy became an issue when Myra and Elias Nikitas approached the district about allowing their son Andreas to enter kindergarten early. School policy requires that a child must be 5 years old as of Sept. 30 to enter kindergarten, but Andreas doesn't turn 5 until October.
"The (Nikitas) approached me and asked for early admission based upon their belief that their son is ready. Since we don't have a policy regarding early enrollment, I didn't think I have the authority to enroll students early," Conrad said.
Conrad said he asked the Nikitas to address the board's policy committee meeting and state their case. After the Nikitas met with the policy committee earlier this week, the board instructed Conrad to examine the possibility of creating an early enrollment policy.
Thomas Vaughan, chairman of the policy committee, said during Wednesday's meeting that the district should look into creating a policy so the district has the ability to address parents' concerns in a more thoughtful way.
Conrad said he wasn't necessarily asked to create a policy, just to examine whether it would make sense to create one and, if it does, to create an outline as to what that policy would look like.
The district does have a policy that allows parents to apply for early enrollment for their children to go into first grade. Conrad said that it involves an employee evaluating the prospective student to see whether they are prepared.
While saying a potential kindergarten policy wouldn't necessarily mirror the first-grade policy, Conrad said any early enrollment process for kindergarten would have to ensure that a child is socially, emotionally and academically prepared for the classroom.
"It is tougher to evaluate younger children because of their age, but I will talk to members of elementary school and pre-school to see if we can't come up with something," Conrad said.
Conrad added that if the district creates an early enrollment plan, it won't have a large impact on the district.
"That was the concern when we came up with a plan for first grade, and it hasn't impacted the district very much," Conrad said.
After the district devises a plan, which there is no timeline for, Conrad said it would be presented to the board.