Archive for Friday, April 15, 2011

Eudora school board reaffirms support for all-day kindergarten, OKs increase in fees

April 15, 2011

The Eudora Board of Education expressed its commitment to all-day kindergarten during its regular monthly meeting, Friday, April 15. The decision to continue the program, and increase the fee for kindergartners, came on the heels of an extended discussion of finance, including a proposal that would eliminate several teaching positions throughout the district.

"The experts tell us that all-day kindergarten is a good investment," said board member Eric Votaw. "It's a positive thing for our students."

Because the state of Kansas only funds kindergarten at a half-day rate, board members discussed the need to help offset the district's subsidy of the full-day program. This year, kindergarten students were subject to a $100 instructional supply fee. Superintendent of Schools Don Grosdidier provided two fee proposals — one that would increase the kindergarten fee to $100 per semester and the other that would increase the fee to $250 per semester.

The six board members present unanimously agreed that the $250 per semester fee was the most appropriate decision, given the ongoing decline in state funding to public school districts. That fee will help offset the majority of the district's subsidy expenses for the all-day program.

"All-day kindergarten makes sense," said board president Kenny Massey during the discussion, "but I wanted to make sure we had a way to pay for it. This is a plan that makes sense."

As with all district fees, full and partial fee waivers are available for any student or family qualifying for the free or reduced lunch program. Applications for those waivers are available during the back-to-school period in August. Payment plans also will be available to help families budget for the fees over the course of the school year.

Grosdidier explained that the $500 fee for the year was well below what several surrounding districts charge for an all-day kindergarten program. But he also stressed that the educational outcomes from these programs are an important investment for students and the community.

"All-day kindergarten is a valuable program," he told the board. "Over several years, this board has made a commitment to early childhood programs, based on the belief that an investment in the early grades will pay off through all the other grades. All-day K is a prime example of this."

Additional information about kindergarten enrollment and fees will be provided on Tuesday, April 19, at Eudora Elementary School's Kindergarten Roundup parent meeting. The meeting begins at 7 p.m., and parents of all students eligible to begin kindergarten this fall are urged to attend.

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