(Posted Jan. 19, 2015)
By Sandi Latimer, Staff Writer
Jonathan Alder Local Schools is considering instituting all-day, every-day kindergarten for the next academic year and wants to hear from the community.
Superintendent Gary Chapman presented a resolution at the Jan. 13 school board meeting, outlining plans for the program which would mean hiring three additional teachers.
“How much time do we have?” asked newly elected board president Tom Bichsel. “Is it state mandated?”
Chapman said that although the proposal had been discussed regularly during the past year, it was not a mandate from the state to put it into effect.
Currently, more than 150 children attend kindergarten classes at Monroe Elementary School and Plain City Elementary School on a part-time basis. Making those classes all-day every-day would mean more administrative support, support staff, furniture, equipment, classroom resources, transportation and food service at an estimated cost of $300,000. Chapman said the school funding formula would pay for $210,000 of that added expense.
By the beginning of the 2015-2016 school year, Chapman said the number of students of kindergarten age could hit 170.
“I can consider this a first reading,” the superintendent said. “I can bring it back at the next meeting.”
Board members voted to revisit the resolution for a vote at a future meeting, but want to hear from the community, especially parents whose children will be affected.
21st century project update
Misty Swanger, director of curriculum and instruction, said the 21st Century Grant project appears to be working.
“When children are excited to stay at school as late as six o’clock, we must be doing something right,” she said.
The district received a $1 million grant for a three-year program to help students at Plain City Elementary with their studies. Much of it is done in after-hours work and some will take place this coming summer. The first review of the project is coming up, Swanger said, promising the board a better update at the next meeting, Feb. 9.
In other action
The board scheduled a public hearing at the next meeting for two teachers who are retiring but seeking to the rehired. Those teachers are Mark Lorson, an honors chemistry and physics teacher, and Beth Randall, an elementary teacher.
Approval was also given for the volleyball team to go to an overnight camp July 16-18 in Mason, Ohio, and for a high school student educational tour to Spain July 14-25, 2016. Chapman said early approval of that Spain was needed so students could begin raising money.
In a report on snow days, Chapman said the district has used five days plus three two-hour delays, which adds up to 38.5 hours lost in instructional time. Since school districts now count hours lost rather than days, the district is running 110.5 hours on the plus side.
However, if the district misses another day and needs to make it up, that will be done on Feb. 16, Presidents Day. In case another makeup day is necessary, it would be the Monday after spring break, Chapman said.
A report from the board’s liaison to Tolles Career and Technical Center showed that positions have been posted for instructors for the engineering, manufacturing and informational technologies classes that will be expanding to the high school in the fall. Those courses were introduced at the junior high level this year and have proven so popular that they are being expanded.
Board members also approved increasing their own pay to $100 a meeting, up from the $80 they had been getting. Chapman said the $80 is the bottom rung of school board pay and the top is $125. He said he would go to $100 for the board, which is what members approved.
They also approved raising the daily pay rate for substitute teachers to $97 in an effort to attract more substitutes. Chapman said the rate had not been raised since 2010.