FARMINGTON — Two Mallett School teachers asked the RSU 9 school directors on Tuesday to consider returning the prekindergarten program to four half days instead of two full days per week.

Prekindergarten teachers Erika Neal and Wendy Oakley gave a presentation on the proposal they say would be more developmentally appropriate for young children.

The Farmington school program serves 64 children; the one at the Cushing School in Wilton serves 32 children, Neal said.

The Cape Cod Hill School in New Sharon is not included because that program is a Community Concepts Inc. Head Start program within the school, she said.

Children that go to prekindergarten are usually about 4 years old.

The district previously had a half-day program but moved to the two full days.

If the change was made, there would be one class for three hours in the morning and a second class in the afternoon for three hours.

Currently, the children attend six hours a day for two days.

Oakley reviewed a schedule for the students currently in the program. The students arrive at 8:45 a.m. and leave at 3:05 p.m.

She said the students get a total of 90 minutes of academic learning time per day due to naps, meals, brushing teeth, snacks and outdoor play.

Some children sleep longer than others during nap time, while some don’t sleep at all, Neal said.

The half-day program would also give students 90 minutes of academic learning time each of the four days, Oakley said.

The full day is too long for many children, she said.

The teachers presented letters to the board from some parents who supported the change. Oakley read parent Jamie Ranger’s letter to the board.

Ranger wrote that three of her children have come through various prekindergarten programs in Farmington, and the program that seemed to work the best for her older children was the consistency of more frequent, shorter days.

Her youngest child was in prekindergarten last year on a Tuesday and Thursday full-day schedule. They had a very hard time throughout the year for a number of reasons, she wrote.

The most notable being the length of the day and the inconsistency of the schedule, she said.

“A full six-hour day for a 4-year-old is simply too much for them,” she wrote. A child that young really needs a consistent schedule and the only way to accomplish that is repetition and consecutive days in the classroom so they can get comfortable with the routine and the structure that is required in that environment, Ranger wrote.

In order to make the change to half days, the district would need more custodian/bus drivers and bus aides, Support Personnel Director David Leavitt said. The district serves 10 towns.

Currently there is a buddy system, and the sixth-graders help buckle and unbuckle the prekindergarten children from the five-point safety seats they ride in, he said.

School Board Director Iris Silverstein, a pediatrician from Farmington, said she agreed with the teachers that four half days would be most developmentally beneficial to the students.

Director Ross Clair of Chesterville said he would like to see the estimated cost of the change.

Ward said he would like the board to revisit the issue during budget talks and determine what the costs would be.

The district gets reimbursed for the prekindergarteners for five days a week, and the district uses that money for other things, Vice Chairwoman Claire Andrews of Farmington said.

But if the money is needed to make a better educational experience for the children, then they might have to use it, she said.

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