Preschool at Kennedy Center?

With the closing of the Tiny Tots program, and kindergarden wait lists being at an all-time high, The Kennedy Center is exploring the option to create a new preschool for three to five-year-olds in Charlestown to start in the fall.

The changed situation was the central topic of discussion and concern at Tuesday evening’s meeting of the Charlestown Neighborhood Council.

Many parents are outraged by the vote to close the 45-year-old Tiny Tots program, including anxious parent Melissa Brennan, who wants the program to continue. Brennan was told Tiny Tots would be discontinued for lack of necessary funds. But Brennan, and the other 200 parents who are circulating a petition, are willing to make up the deficit. “If the goal is $50,000, give me a chance to raise $50,000,” Brennan said. “I have people that are willing to work to pay the gap,” she said.

Tiny Tots is $275 a month per child for a five day a week program. The typical cost of a daycare is easily that much a week. The purpose of The Kennedy Center’s preschool program would be to serve as an affordable, private pay option, with choices of a two, three, or five day program.

The program would run each day for either five hours from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. or nine hours from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. The program would run for the entirety of the school year (September-June), with a continuation of programming over the summer for families who would like to keep their children enrolled.

But Brennan hasn’t given up hope on Tiny Tots just yet. “I’m trying to speak with someone from the program,” she said. “If there are parents who can raise the money, we should be allowed to do that.”

Just this past year, demand for kindergarten seats in the Boston Public Schools increased by more than 25 percent, leaving hundreds of students without an assigned school. Charlestown parents are fearful that their children will not have a kindergarden education in a proper learning environment. In January, Mayor Thomas M. Menino vowed to change Boston’s school assignment lottery. And if not Menino, it will be concerned Charlestown parents who will  make changes.

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