Kimball to make changes to kindergarten next year

Published on Wednesday, 30 November -0001 00:00
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For several years now the Kimball school board has been able to preserve all-day every-day free kindergarten, but that will soon change. Beginning with the 2009-10 school year, the school district will try a combination program with three options: • Free alternate-day kindergarten • Free alternate-day kindergarten with paid daycare ("Kids Plus") on the non-kindergarten days • Free alternate-day kindergarten with paid kindergarten ("Kindergarten Plus") on alternate days The cost of Kindergarten Plus to be paid by parents will be the actual cost to the district of the extra, non-state-mandated days of kindergarten instruction. Actual cost will be determined by the number enrolled, but parents in neighboring districts pay about $200 per month. The cost to parents for Kids Plus daycare on alternating days would be less than for Kindergarten Plus. Students would be in a different room on Kids Plus days, not in the kindergarten rooms, and there would be daycare workers present, not licensed kindergarten teachers. Enrichment activities would be provided. The unique advantage to families for the Kids Plus option is that students would be bussed to school every day, allowing them to keep the same daily schedule, at no cost. Under these two paid options, monthly charges would be payable by the 15th of the month before. Payments would be coordinated through Community Education, and credit card payments or automatic checking account payments could be arranged. The remaining option is going back to the "old" Kindergarten of several years ago, where students attend kindergarten for full days but every-other day. The "older" way of kindergarten for half-days every day is too expensive these days, primarily because of the high cost of transporting kindergartners to or from school in the middle of the day. Enrollment in these programs for next fall will determine the teaching staff needed next year. If about half of the expected 55 students next fall are enrolled in the kindergarten/Kindergarten Plus option, there will be one section of full-time kindergarten. The remaining students could choose either non-kindergarten option on the alternating days. A Kindergarten Roundup will be held, and principal Jon Clark and other staff will explain each of the kindergarten options to prospective parents. The deadline for families to enroll their 2009-10 kindergarten students in one of the three options will be around April 1. This proposal was put together by superintendent John Tritabaugh and approved by the board. Increasing school costs combined with inconsistent state funding required further budget cuts at Kimball schools. Tritabaugh explained that they could have changed to a partially-paid kindergarten program two years ago, but now they have to. "At the elementary, there was nothing left to do [except this]," he told the board at their Jan. 21 meeting. In other business at the Jan. 21 school board meeting: • Kurt Helgeson was elected chair, Doug Stenger vice-chair, Robin Dockery clerk, and Tim Peglow treasurer. • High school principal reported that 8th-grade Algebra will be a state requirement by 2010-11; currently Kimball students are about evenly split between 8th-grade Algebra and 8th-grade Math. The next meeting of the Kimball school board will be at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 11, in the board room (northwest corner of the high school). These meetings are open to the public. Call Joan Nystrom at (320) 398-5585 if you would like to be placed on the agenda to address the board on an issue.