Archive for Thursday, February 16, 2006

USD 491 to expand kindergarten staff

February 16, 2006

Although Eudora USD 491 may not know how much, if any, new money it might receive from the Legislature this year, administrators are certain the district will need additional staff starting next year.

In all, the district would look to hire five new teachers, a full-time curriculum director and a head communications officer.

Among the forces compelling the district to hire new help are the impending move to all-day kindergarten and what Superintendent Marty Kobza sees as the "bubble" of Eudora's potential growth.

When the bubble bursts, the district could see a rapid increase in student population, eventually jumping to as many as 2,500 students, Kobza said.

"We're going to double like that, and when that happens we need to be ahead of the curve," Kobza said.

In order to supplement the current kindergarten teachers on staff, the district will need to hire three additional teachers.

Once the three new teachers are hired, the district will be able to teach six sessions of all-day kindergarten with about 20 students each, if current enrollment projections stand, Kobza said.

Current enrollment projections will also lead to expanding faculty at Eudora West Elementary, Kobza said.

This year, the district has 211 second-grade students who are projected to move to West next year.

"Because of that, that will cause a need for a reading teacher over there so we can continue running our reading program the way it needs to be run," Kobza said.

The district will also be looking to hire another full-time music teacher, Kobza said.

"We need elective times at the middle school in particular," Kobza said.

The high school and middle school will work out a schedule to best allot the new music teacher's time, Kobza said.

The other two additions hinge specifically on projected growth.

In years past, the school district had a person working full-time to help maintain and draft curriculum. In recent times, the district has shaved the position to halftime and worked with an organization called the Curriculum Leadership Institute to help develop coursework.

"We need that to be a full-time position again," Kobza said.

The curriculum position could be covered within the existing salary structure, Kobza said.

"This is a wash, in essence," Kobza said.

The last new addition is something many larger districts ---- including De Soto ---- have used for years.

"What I'm proposing to you is that we add a communications position in our district. This position is similar to what other districts are doing in our area to promote information back and forth," Kobza said.

In Eudora, the communications director would have varied responsibilities ranging from media relations, maintaining and developing the district's Web site and act as a liaison for an endowment fund run outside of the district, Kobza said.

"We can't keep it updated like it needs to be updated with existing staff," Kobza said.

The communications director would help draft in-district newsletters and organize awards ceremonies for teachers, Kobza said.

For all the new salaries, the district is looking at between $320,000 and $330,000 added to next year's budget.

The majority ---- about 75 percent ------ of the funds could come from new enrollment, Kobza said.

The rest of the funding could be raised through program cuts if need be, Kobza said.

"It's essential to remember if you want to continue to address your priorities ---- which are class sizes, student achievement, supporting the reading program and programs that have proven to be successful ---- this is what it takes to do that," Kobza said.

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