Reynoldsburg take a time-out on full-day kindergarten

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Parents in the Reynoldsburg school district looking forward to full-day kindergarten classes will have to wait until next year, following a recommendation by Superintendent Richard Ross issued July 17.

Ross, a staunch advocate of full-day kindergarten, felt the district did not have enough time to adequately implement the pay-to-stay program for the 2007-2008 school term. The district will continue to provide half-day sessions, as required by the state, this fall and then possibly add full-day sessions for a monthly fee next year.

"I am very very interested in full-day kindergarten, but I didn’t think we were ready this year," said Ross during a school board meeting. "It needs to be a well-oiled machine and not get a late start. I’d like to recommend we not proceed this year."

However, the district is moving ahead with plans to continue and expand a Standards-Based Report Card Pilot project for the upcoming school year.

Student Services coordinator Mary Ann Frey said parents provided information and clarified issues on what the report card needed in order to make it a better reporting tool, following the first pilot program at Slate Ridge and Waggoner Road school buildings.

Kindergarten and first grade classes at Graham Road and several teams at Hannah Ashton middle school will also participate in the pilot program this year.

"We changed some things by listening to parents," said board President Cheryl Max. "We’ll still continue to make changes, but you need a jumping-off point somewhere."

The superintendent noted, since improvements were made and significant refinements incorporated into the report card used in the initial pilot program, the current document received a much more favorable response.

Board member Mary Jane Underwood, a retired Graham Road Elementary principal, said when a district is providing a report on what a youngster is actually learning, "it is a great tool for parents."

In other discussion, Ross told board members the Ohio School Facilities Commission authorized a multi-million dollar matching program for construction of a new high school, if the district is able to pass a bond issue. Voters turned down the issue last year.

Funds to purchase the property, including land for a new elementary building, were approved with the passage of the 2004 bond package. The district is moving ahead with plans to buy a 68-acre parcel east of Summit Road and south of Refugee Road in Etna Township.

"We’re not hypothesizing, the money is really there," reported Ross, who said he plans to present the board with a proposal for a bond issue. "We’re on a fairly short time frame for a primary election."

As Reynoldsburg prepares to begin the 2007-2008 school year with a uniform policy firmly in place for upper grade levels, the district is wrestling with the idea of how best to distribute a Raider Wear clothing allowance to students on free and reduced lunch programs. The superintendent proposed providing a $50 credit for those eligible for free lunches and $25 for those on reduced lunch.

Ross also announced he will not approve any intra-district open enrollment requests at the junior highs this year-even though he said he is an advocate of the policy-due to staff reductions as part of Reynoldsburg’s cost-cutting measures.

Open enrollment is still an option at the elementary level, and there is a slight possibility for interested middle-schoolers, but no students will be allowed open enrollment in junior high.

The community is invited to attend the dedication of Waggoner Road Junior High on Aug. 8 at 6:30 p.m. A re-dedication of Baldwin Road Junior High will be held the following week on Aug. 16 at 6:30 p.m.

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