By Seth Daniel
For many parents, kindergarten signups are the first contact they’ve ever had with the local schools – or at least the first contact since they went to school themselves.
Many have driven by the schools for years, but had little reason to step foot inside until now.
To watch their little ones take their first steps into the neighborhood schoolhouse can be overwhelming and uncertain. While parents wonder where the last five years have gone, they also simultaneously fret over how the next 12 years will go.
That can be quite scary, and this week, several parents began facing that fear as kindergarten signups occurred at the new Parent Information Center (PIC) in the Beachmont School. Those eligible for kindergarten must live in Revere and be 5 years old by August 31.
Sean and Elaine Bussey and Jacqueline Lavery are parents who were just starting to take that jump last week, signing up their youngsters for next year’s kindergarten class at the Beachmont.
“It’s a very scary thing to think about, but exciting, too,” said Elaine Bussey. “This is the start of a new journey for us.”
Superintendent of Schools Paul Dakin said starting the schooling process is just as difficult for parents as it is for kids.
“The concern about little kids going to school is real, but it’s often more difficult for the parents than it is for the kids,” he said. “You see just as many parents crying on that first day as you see kids crying.”
This coming school year will be the fourth year that the Revere Public Schools have offered full-day kindergarten in all their elementary schools, and most believe now that all the kinks have been worked out of the program.
“I think that the full day will be a lot to take on at first,” said Lavery. “My child will be going from three days a week at pre-school to five days a week at kindergarten, but I do think it’s better because it helps parents, so that they don’t have to find day care for half the day.”
Deputy Superintendent of Schools Ann Marie Costa said kindergarten is a whole new ball game these days, especially since many kids already attend a pre-school.
“Kindergarten used to be to acquire social skills,” she said. “That’s not the same now. They’re exposed to a full curriculum. Most of them upon leaving kindergarten are reading and writing. So many kids go to pre-school now that they’re ready to go to kindergarten when the time comes.”
In all reality, younger kids these days are heaped with higher expectations. Most agree that is a good thing, as no parent wants his/her children to underachieve. Likewise, no school district wants their students to underachieve in the classroom or on MCAS tests.
Full-day kindergarten may well be one major piece in taking kids to a new level of academic success in Revere.
“As time goes on, we should be able to see this materialize into a blip up in the third grade reading scores,” said Dakin. “The kids in grade 2 now – the first ones to have full-day kindergarten – if you follow them, we’ll see their scores increase and their successes increase. We expect that to continue.”
Parents also said they chose the Revere public schools over private schools because of these expectations – that perhaps the expectations lead to success down the line.
“These are all the same schools we went to,” said Elaine Bussey. “Plus, I’ve seen with my nieces that there are better opportunities down the line for scholarships.”
Said Lavery, “There are tons of kids from Revere now who go to great schools like Tufts, Brown, Harvard and Boston College.”
One thing that has made the transition easier for parents enrolling their kindergartners has been the PIC. The information center, located in a converted art room at the Beachmont School on the Bennington Street side, opened last summer on a small scale, but is now fully functional and is the centralized location for parents to enroll their kids and ask questions.
Al Mogavero, who wears several hats in the administration, is running the PIC with Director of Attendance Vincent Milaiko, who simultaneously checks up on residency and attendance.
With several staff members who are fluent in at least six different languages, the PIC has served the needs of every parent inquiring about the schools. Now, instead of having to trudge to several different locations, parents can go to this centralized location for one-stop shopping, so to speak.
“It’s really needed in an urban district like ours,” said Costa. “It’s a long time coming and something we dreamt about, and now it has come to fruition.”
Parents also seem to like it.
“Somerville does this as well,” said Elaine Bussey. “I find it handy to have one location for everything. I think, overall, it’s more consistent.”
Both sets of parents agreed the process was free of red tape and pretty straightforward.
“I thought it was simple and easy,” said Sean Bussey.
For those enrolling in kindergarten this coming year, or in any elementary grade, for that matter, the district said the preference is to locate each child in his or her neighborhood school.
Most kids attend the school closest to their home, but there are options available. Depending on space, parents can choose a non-neighborhood school placement.
For all elementary grades (K-5), there are approximately 400 non-neighborhood school placements a year.
“Our preference is to give the parents what they want, and if they can’t have that, then the neighborhood school is defined as the rule,” said Superintendent of Schools Paul Dakin. “If we have the seats available at a school, we’ll place the student there.”
However, parents can’t just expect such a placement.
Some of the elementary schools are already bursting at the seams.
The Whelan School is over its capacity with students from within the neighborhood, so that school isn’t available for a non-neighborhood school placement.
Likewise, the burden of transportation is on the parents for non-neighborhood school placements. However, that doesn’t pertain to kindergarten because the district doesn’t provide transportation for kindergarten students.
Text Box –
Kindergarten registration began this week for the Beachmont and Paul Revere schools and will continue through Friday, February 27. Kindergarten registration in other schools are as follows, and the hours of registration are 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the PIC. The phone number is 781-485-8453.
Beachmont/Paul Revere February 23-27
Lincoln School March 2-6
Whelan School March 9-13
McKinley School March 16-20
Garfield Elementary School March 23-27