In what he called the first stop on a road show to plug tuition-free preschool, Mashpee school superintendent Brian Hyde paid a visit to the Vineyard late last week.

The Cape educator piloted one of the state’s only universal preschool programs last fall as a way to boost academic performance. Third grade scores on standardized tests were not up to par, and Mr. Hyde saw a need to focus more resources on the early grades.

“Children were not coming to school kindergarten-ready,” Mr. Hyde told the members of the Council on Young Children, a group of professionals that meet regularly to discuss issues facing the Island’s early childhood population, last Thursday.

His preschool program, Gateway to Excellence, currently enrolls 98 children, and it’s been a “smashing success,” he said. “It’s been a feather in our cap.”

Before universal preschool, Mashpee already had a public preschool, but only students with special needs were guaranteed a spot.

This September, all Mashpee four year olds were offered a tuition-free seat in a full-day or half-day program along with free transportation.

Mr. Hyde said he wanted to reach all kids, even those who couldn’t afford preschool or came from families with addiction problems — heroin use is a significant problem in Mashpee, he said.

“I want to make sure those kids have a place to go every day,” he said.

The preschool is contained within an elementary school already serving kindergarten through second grade students. The district financed the program through Chapter 70 state education funds, special education grants and some reorganization of the teaching staff.

If the Vineyard does move forward with a similar model, they won’t have to reinvent the wheel.

Mr. Hyde’s presentation Thursday was something of a how-to for preschool startup programs. He distributed a copy of his budget, registration forms and promotional material that was sent to the Cape newspapers in advance of the registration date.

But the tuition-free model is not the only way to go about it.

Wellfleet, another Cape town, is considering a plan to offer tuition vouchers to families so their children can attend private preschool for free.

Mr. Hyde said the town should find a way to monitor the educational outcomes of their students, considering the wide variability in preschool philosophy.

“When you just start throwing money out into the private sector, who is holding anybody accountable for what the return on the investment is?” he said.

A father of eight children, one of his own children attends the Gateway to Excellence preschool. He also has a child at a private preschool.

Mr. Hyde said private preschools in his community were understandably nervous about the implications of the new preschool. “I would think that in their shoes, I would feel threatened that my livelihood was going to be suffering,” he said.

But he called universal preschool the way of the future.

“Uncle Sam is ultimately going to take over early childhood,” Mr. Hyde said.

Last year, New York city schools adopted a universal preschool model for all four year olds.

In a public interview last week, newly-appointed Vineyard schools superintendent Matt D’Andrea, said he would work toward universal preschool in his tenure as superintendent. Mr. D’Andrea takes over for retiring superintendent Dr. James H. Weiss in late June.

“I thought his presentation was very inspiring,” Mr. D’Andrea said of Mr. Hyde’s talk on Thursday. “We’ve had a lot of conversations about preschool for all and I certainly think that’s a direction we need to head.”

Others educators present at the talk pointed to potential challenges.

Mashpee has a single school system serving 1,700 children. Vineyard schools, on the other hand, serve 2,122 students through five separate school districts.

Phil Campbell, regional director of student support services, said the complex structure of the Vineyard school districts would make replicating the Mashpee model more difficult. He also said at least one town was already struggling to pay its current education costs, and that space was limited in the current school buildings.

Debbie Milne, program director at the Martha’s Vineyard Community Services early childhood center, said she’d like to see dialogue take place in a variety of forums.

Edgartown assistant principal Anne Fligor said it would be great to give children equal access to the skills they need for kindergarten.

“The people who have preschools are doing a great job,” Ms. Fligor said. “It’s just really right now those kids who are coming out of situations where they are not in a preschool and the parents don’t have the skills to give them any school-ready early skills . . . that population is really needy.”

The up-Island school regional school district has already begun serious discussions about instituting universal preschool. Chilmark committee member Robert Lionette said the district would likely absorb any associated costs.

“There is a near-universal sentiment among the school committee that this is something we should pursue and quickly,” he said.