April 23, 2009

Full-time kindergarten, student numbers top agenda

Full-time kindergarten, student numbers top agenda
An uncertainty about the size of classrooms next year forced the Garrison School Board Monday evening to wrestle with class size and the number of teachers to hire.
“I wish I had a crystal ball that could tell me,” Elementary Principal Shelly Fuller said.
A personnel committee and then later the full board discussed: does the district split kindergarten and second grade into two classes each? Does it add staff or reduce staff?
Fuller said she fully supports full days of kindergarten but suggested the district might have kindergarten half-time first semester, then have them go full-time second semester. By the second semester the district would have a clear picture of the number of students and students would be better prepared for full-time schedules by January, she said.
Superintendent Steve Brannan agreed with her plan, recommending all teachers be offered contracts. The school’s message to families is to alert the school if they will be leaving or joining the district.
Hearing the administration’s recommendation the board approved full-time, full-day kindergarten. Fuller said the curriculum is set up for full-time kindergarten; teacher Collette Gehring is teaching two math lessons a day to keep up. Fuller described to the board the material that kindergarteners are expected to learn by the end of their first year.
Duben questioned what parents want. (He had the only dissenting vote against full-time kindergarten.) Fuller said the school realizes and supports that parents are the first teachers and the most important teachers. “I think we owe it to our students to provide the best environment possible,” she said.

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