District expands preschool program
The USD 204 Board of Education Monday gave the go-ahead to expand a preschool program for at-risk students into each of the elementary schools.
Leticia Porter, director of elementary education, last month asked the board to expand the program from Delaware Ridge Elementary, where it has been based for the last five years, to all three district elementary schools. With approval of the expansion Monday, one preschool teacher and a paraprofessional will be based at Bonner Springs Elementary, while another teacher and paraprofessional will split their days between Edwardsville Elementary and Delaware Ridge.
The program will be called the State Pre-Kindergarten Program and is open to non-at-risk students, or peers, but spaces for peers will be limited. The purpose of the program is to provide preschool for students whose families might not otherwise be able to send them to a preschool program.
At Monday’s meeting, Porter said changes in state regulations mean that there can be no more than 20 children per classroom, and the district no longer can have a separate program for special education preschoolers, which the district currently has in the McDanield building. So staff currently at the McDanield program would move to the other schools.
Expanding the program should reduce the amount of time preschool students spend on a bus and allow students to go to preschool in the same school where they will attend kindergarten. Porter said 52 students are taking part in preschool this year at Delware Ridge. Of those, 13 actually live in the Edwardsville Elementary boundaries and another 13 were in the Bonner Springs Elementary boundaries.
After doing some early advertising to gauge interest, there are nine children signed up for the program at Bonner Springs, 17 at Delaware Ridge, and nine at Edwardsville. The district plans to have two classes at Bonner Springs Elementary, meaning there are 31 slots available, but if those can’t be filled, then things could be shifted to have two classes at Delaware Ridge, Porter said.
She said most parents don’t enroll for preschool until mid-summer, so the numbers very well could increase, especially after next week’s Kindergarten Roundup.
While Head Start also provides preschool for at-risk students, it can offer more social services to families.
“We try to work with them so if families need more services, they go to Head Start, and if not, come our way,” Porter said.
In other business, the board:
• After conducting a 25-minute executive session, approved hiring Rick Moulin, current assistant principal at the high school, as principal at Clark Middle School. Current middle school principal Steve Cook will leave at the end of the school year, having accepted a job in Colorado.
• Approved minutes from the April 1 meeting, treasurer and clerk’s reports, and warrants totaling $187,754 in separate motions.
• Reviewed architects proposals for constructing a single, controlled entrance into the office at Bonner Springs High School during school hours, estimated at $173,220, and changes to improve drainage and add signage for the District P.E. Facility awning, estimated at $18,182. The board approved sending out bids for the work at the high school 6-1, with Tim McGinnis voting in opposition, stating he had concerns about visibility into the hallways. The board amended the motion to seek the addition of security cameras and monitors. The board tabled consideration of bids for the awning work.
• Discussed future consideration of the extension of the contract with OPAA. Eric Hansen, business director, said staff will continue to analyze student and staff satisfaction and financial goals to share that information before consideration of the contract.
• Heard a proposal for SAF-K, a program providing an athletic trainer for high school sports, covering all practices, home games and some away games to help injured athletes and work with students to prevent injuries. Participation would be about $20,000 in the first year.
• Approved 4-3 2013-14 Fall and Winter coaching assignments; approved 5-1 tabling a request for two new coaches.
• Learned that the YouthFriends organization no longer exists. Superintendent Robert VanMaren said the district would look at another program connecting students with mentors.
• Learned Clark Middle School was a finalist for state middle school of year; Lisa Krone was a finalist for national middle school administrator of year; and CMS’s two Kansas Destination Imagination teams earned first places, qualifying them for global finals in Knoxville, Tenn.