Additional all-day kindergarten is discussed
Although Baldwin School District’s pilot all-day kindergarten class is only half over, another one might be added next school year.
On Monday night, the Baldwin School Board discussed the possibilities of an additional class. Cost and availability were talked about by the school board, along with interest and success of this year’s pilot program.
After a report from Deb Ehling-Gwin, Baldwin Elementary School Primary Center principal, and a brief discussion, the topic was tabled until the January meeting.
“Tonight was just the informational part of that issue,” Supt. Paul Dorathy said Monday. “The board identified the things it wants to talk about next month and then it will decide on all-day kindergarten at the January meeting.”
Ehling-Gwin came to the meeting to report on a survey that was given to the parents of the full-day kindergarten students. She said 13 of the 18 parents returned the surveys, which addressed the program so far.
“They were all positive,” Ehling-Gwin said. “My recommendation is that we continue with an all-day kindergarten class next year. I’d like to see us add a section. I think we could fill it.
“The one change I would recommend would be to add a full-time para-professional if the class is going to be 18 kids again,” she said. “The other K classes are 15 students and those three extra kids make a big difference over the course of a whole day.”
Ehling-Gwin also told the board eight to 10 parents of next year’s kindergarten students have inquired about a full-day class next fall.
“I also think as the economy continues to get worse, more parents will be in favor of all-day kindergarten,” she said.
One of the roadblocks in creating another full-day class is available space in the BESPC building. At the meeting, Dorathy said one of the half-day classes would be changed to a full-day class next year if the board approves the additional program.
Another problem is the cost of the class. The total cost of this year’s program is $25,769 and $20,820 of that is being paid by the parents.
“Cost is the main issue,” Dorathy said. “Right now we are doing everything we can to watch all of our costs. That may control the board’s decision.”
One item at Monday’s meeting that won’t cost the district any additional dollars is an annual 4-year-old program grant. Dorathy was given permission by the board to pursue the grant, which would add a second full-day 4-year-old class.
The full-day class in the district is at Marion Springs Elementary School right now. If the grant is approved, the second class would be located inside the BESPC.
“We’ve got a grant to add another section of the full-day 4-year-old program,” Dorathy said. “This section would be here in the primary center. Parents of the 4-year-olds will have a choice of whether to keep their child in a half-day or full-day program if we get the grant.”
The school board also approved the personnel report Monday night. It included the resignations of Michelle Gorden (transportation) and Nikki Burnett (Baldwin High School golf coach). Dexter Gratts, BHS evening custodian, also retired from the district. The new hires included Scott Morgan (BHS evening custodian), Larry Kay (transportation driver) and Jenni Wedel (non-certified teacher aide).
The next school board meeting is set for 6:30 p.m. Jan 12.