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R-P moves to all-day, everyday Kindergarten

Fri, Mar 23rd, 2007
Posted in Education

RUSHFORD - The room broke out in applause when the R-P school board voted to implement all day/every day kindergarten at its March 20 meeting.

The board invited the community to come speak prior to the regular meeting. Approximately twenty-five people were in attendance. Thirteen went to the microphone to speak in favor of the all day/ everyday proposal. Two spoke against it.

Those in favor included kindergarten teachers Nancy Colbenson and Judy Vix, who focused on the new demands on kindergarteners.

"It's basically what used to be first grade," Colbenson said of the kindergarten curriculum, which now includes reading and solving math problems.

"The only way we can handle the expanded scope (of kindergarten curriculum) and teach appropriately and effectively is that we need more time," Colbenson concluded.

School psychologist Rachel Brown said her priority is always having "more time to help the struggling kids." The district has an effective reading intervention program, according to Brown, but with kindergartners only being in school half days, there's no time for benchmark testing and intervention for them.

Pat Barber expressed a concern that a 7-hour day would be too much for her son, and for others not used to the schedule. She also cited studies that don't support the idea that kids in kindergarten all day truly have lasting advantages over those who don't.

Jim Scaif was also against the all-day plan because he appreciated spending the other half day with his older children when they were in kindergarten.

"We're the sort of people," Scaif said, "who are so grateful for our schools-but we do not think schools are the end-all for children's education; we think it rests with us (parents)."

But Brenda O'Hare, who teaches in a neighboring district, said that since many kids are currently in some type of pre-school, most are ready for the full day of kindergarten. O'Hare also said it's important for R-P to "stay apace with area schools."

Angela Colbenson, who formerly taught in the Dover-Eyota district, spoke about the success of the all day/ everyday kindergarten there.

Board member Jim Kitchens who has long been an enthusiastic supporter of the plan made the motion to implement all day/ everyday kindergarten. Roger Metz seconded, and the board voted unanimously in favor.

The vote made Kitchens reflective. He remembered his early days on the school board when the district was in debt. "I was glad to move to everyday, half day kindergarten (two years ago)," Kitchens said. "It's taken us a long time to build up the fund balance" in order to implement all day, everyday kindergarten. "If we don't spend our money on education, what can we spend it on?" he asked rhetorically.

Superintendent Miller, who had recommended the all day, everyday option, reminded the board that there's still a slim chance that the state will vote to fund the measure statewide.

The board turned to possibly its least-favorite, but inevitable topic: summer building repairs. Before presenting proposed projects and costs, Miller took a turn at being reflective. "I've worked in a number of districts," he said, "and I am always amazed by the amount of people who think they're saving money by not building a new school."

With that, Miller presented the board with over $100,000 worth of projects that he and maintenance supervisor Paul Anderson deemed urgent for this summer, including a new vacuum pump for $15,000, steam traps for $8,500, locker room hot water heater for $10,000, tile and carpet replacement following asbestos abatement for $12,000, tuck-pointing the 1906 and 1970 buildings for nearly $60,000, and more.

Metz asked whether tuck-pointing the middle school (1970) building really had to be done this year since that $35,000 would come in handy for funding the new kindergarten initiative.

"Well, it's not going to fall down right away," Anderson joked. The board decided to table the middle school tuck-pointing for now.

In other business, the board:

• agreed to hold a special meeting Monday, March 26, to discuss the current administration structure and possible changes.

• continued to tinker with a form to use for evaluation of the superintendent.

• tabled a decision to purchase closed-circuit television for security.

• voted unanimously not to renew superintendent Miller's contract.

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