Kindergarten: All day, everyday?
Kevin Cederstrom firstname.lastname@example.org All-day, everyday kindergarten is something many school districts are discussing, trying to determine the value to families and at the same time addressing budget concerns. New York Mills is currently in, what scho...
All-day, everyday kindergarten is something many school districts are discussing, trying to determine the value to families and at the same time addressing budget concerns.
New York Mills is currently in, what school superintendent Todd Cameron calls, the exploratory stage of all-day everyday kindergarten. Cameron and the NY Mills School Board discussed the issue Monday, looking at some of the pros and cons of the program.
Cameron said the research is clear that students do better both socially and academically in an all-day everyday kindergarten and the district would definitely see an improvement in math and reading skills. Such a program, he said, would also expand the opportunity for more NY Mills families to participate in junior kindergarten and school readiness.
Cameron points out Mills has very good early childhood education programs with quality pre-schools and day cares in the community, which all prepare kids for kindergarten. Programs such as IMPACT, 4-H and church and civic group youth activities also contribute to early childhood education. Cameron sees everyday kindergarten as expanding on those quality programs and providing an opportunity for kids at the kindergarten age to spend everyday with their peers, learning to get along with kids the same age.
The fact the current curriculum set by the state is already designed for all-day everyday kindergarten, Cameron stated, and with the expectations by the state standards kids almost need to go all day. Its important to note, even though the district is considering increasing classroom time for kindergarten students parents would still have options. Just because everyday kindergarten may be offered doesnt mean the kids would have to go every day. Cameron said families would still have the option to send the kids every other day if they chose to, and later in the year if a parent felt her child was ready for more they could go every day.
Of course, money doesnt grow on trees and the district would have to find funding in the budget to pay for everyday kindergarten. The state has decided not to fund everyday kindergarten so it would cost the district for additional staff, supplies and materials. If Mills decided to go ahead with everyday kindergarten, based on the current enrollment numbers, the district would have three sections of 17, and would need to add a 1.5 teacher positions. An early cost estimate to the district would be around $60,000.
Some area school districts currently offering everyday kindergarten charge tuition. Cameron said that would be an option in Mills but would rather not go that route.
Sebeka, Menahga, Battle Lake and Perham all currently have everyday kindergarten. Wadena is considering making the move but has not done so do to budget cuts the last couple years.
Cameron said he, staff and the school board want to make sure they get as much information as possible and feedback from the community before making any decisions. With the program already in place in other districts Mills must consider the effect of open enrollment.
We want to make sure we do our homework and do the research, he said. If we did go to all-day everyday kindergarten it would want to commit to it long-term and not on a trial basis.
Cameron said the school board will take its time on this decision and there is little chance the district would have everyday kindergarten by next fall.
The school invites parents interested in talking about the needs for early childhood education in the community to a public forum May 2, 5:30 p.m., at the school commons. A light meal will be served and the purpose of the meeting is to set goals and identify priorities for early education in NY Mills.
The school was recently awarded a $30,000 grant through West Central Initiative to fund early education programs.
Basketball coach resigns
Jason Boe has decided to step down after 5 years as head varsity coach of the Eagles girls basketball team. Boe also resigned as junior high football coach.
Other resignations include Kay Reger, retiring after 29 years as a bus driver.