Archive for Thursday, November 18, 2004

School board ponders mechanics of preschool program

November 18, 2004

Other school districts' preschool programs might have a few ideas worth "stealing" were Eudora to implement such a program.

"If somebody's doing something that works for them, we want to 'steal' a lot of it," said Marty Kobza, Eudora USD 491 superintendent.

At the Nov. 11 meeting, Kobza told the Board of Education how a preschool program could be run if the Eudora district were to offer one in the future. He said if school districts offered preschool as an "extended educational opportunity," they didn't have to be licensed or meet guidelines set by the Kansas Department of Health and Environment.

Moreover, the program wouldn't require certified teachers. Kobza said the district could hire those with early childhood education degrees from a community college, for instance.

If preschool is offered in conjunction with daycare for district employees, Kobza said the district would have to adhere to KDHE guidelines. The downside of doing so, was that, as other superintendents told Kobza, it also made a preschool program cost-prohibitive.

Although Kobza said the Lawrence district charged a fee, he said the district's non-profit foundation picked up part of the tab.

Charging a fee wouldn't necessarily be out of the realm of what parents and caregivers would pay elsewhere for preschool or daycare, he said.

If the district were to add a preschool program, Kobza said, room would be available at the Eudora Community Learning Center or possibly at Nottingham Elementary School should the configuration of the district's buildings change in the future.

At the October meeting, the Board discussed the trend of schools to move toward all-day kindergarten. Kobza said it was coming and that the district had to prepare for the inevitable.

He said the "bar had been raised," and that schools could talk about working with preschools to get kids school-ready.

Although studies push for boosting children's learning at an early age -- saying they learn most between 3 and 5 years old -- Kobza said costs were holding back all-day kindergarten programs. He said it would cost the Eudora district about $100,000, and the state doesn't finance all-day kindergarten.

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