All-day kindergarten could get try
A class full of kindergarten students might just test pilot an all-day class next year in the Baldwin School District.
Although no decision has been made, the Baldwin School Board might be leaning toward a pilot class in August. That was the direction the board sent Supt. Paul Dorathy at Monday's meeting.
"The board basically gave direction for us to look at a one-class pilot," Dorathy said. "Then we will come back to them and tell them what all we would have to do to make that possible."
Before the board gave Dorathy a direction to head, the discussion centered on cost of an all-day kindergarten program. On Tuesday, Dorathy explained the cost associated with the program, especially regarding employees' salaries.
"We would have about $24,000 worth of staff costs to do an all-day kindergarten pilot," Dorathy said. "To do all-day kindergarten for the entire district would cost $148,000 just for staffing. That's adding three full-time positions. That does not include more supplies or materials. It would cost an additional $10,000 to $15,000 to do that. So, there is some cost involved to start up a program."
The school board's direction came after a lengthy discussion Monday night. The topic started when Dorathy presented the all-day kindergarten committee's recommendations to the board.
The first recommendation by the committee came from the teachers. Dorathy said the teachers would like to stay with the half-day kindergarten, but they realize the state is pushing for all-day classes. They are also concerned about the cost of the program and want to wait until the state fully funds the program.
The second recommendation came from the administrators. Dorathy said that group would like to see the district open a pilot class next year, if the district can't financially or physically find a way to make the jump to everyone being in all-day kindergarten.
The recommendation was also made that if a program was started next fall, it should be funded solely by the parents. The board had slightly different feelings on this issue.
"If it's not completely funded by the families, then I think it's our duty to provide the program to those families who are willing to pay," Board Member Scott Lauridsen said.
The school board did discuss picking up some of the costs for a pilot class next year, but no decision was made. At the meeting, Dorathy said he hopes the district can fund the program in the future, but the pilot might have to be parent funded.
"I would like to see the district funding the program sometime down the line. But we would have to start with parents funding the program at first."
Along with the financial burden of starting an all-day kindergarten program, the board also discussed space available for those classes. Dorathy, again, answered that on Tuesday.
"Right now we probably do not have classroom space in the district to do all-day kindergarten for all kids," Dorathy said. "We just don't have the space for it. We could do a one-class pilot, but we don't have room for everybody."
A couple of other issues came up at the meeting, such as size of a pilot class and what students would be in the class. The board will further look into the program at its upcoming meetings. For now, though, the idea of a pilot class is the direction for the Baldwin district.
"I think I'm willing to support a pilot, but I don't want to be rushed," Board Member Blaine Cone said. "If we don't have things in place, I don't want to push it through just to make it happen."