Archive for Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Lawrence elementary school task force mulls all-day kindergarten

October 19, 2010


Moving next year’s sixth-graders into middle schools looks to open up plenty of room in elementary schools for any number of uses in the future, including the potential for all-day kindergarten districtwide.

One minor problem: cash.

“Parents like it, and it’s good for kids,” said Scott Morgan, a member of the Lawrence school board. “It’s a great combination, but it’s highly unlikely to be implemented. I don’t know where we would come up with the money.”

He pauses.

“But it needs to be talked about.”

No problem there.

Morgan and other members of the Lawrence school district’s Elementary School Facility Vision Task Force are busy discussing enrollment data, building conditions, historical trends, efficiency goals and other matters deemed necessary to determining what shape the district’s 15 elementary schools should take in future years.

Monday night’s meeting expanded into the realm of “best practices,” a lineup of policies, investments and operations shown by researchers to make the most difference in improving education for students in grades kindergarten through 12.

All-day kindergarten made the list. Others included training and retaining teachers, encouraging parental involvement, following a “tight” curriculum and using data to drive allocation of resources.

But the real discussions will start in the coming weeks, as members of the task force — a group formed to help envision how the district’s schools should operate now that sixth-graders will be moving up to middle schools beginning next year — begin to focus on the big picture.

The task force’s four subcommittees will report their findings, and then all two dozen members will try to find common ground through efficiency, history, schools’ physical conditions and how all those factors fit into the concept of “neighborhood” and “community” schools.

“Then everything’s fair game,” said Rick Doll, district superintendent.

That’s also when members will start assigning priorities to the so-called “best practices,” to see not only which ones might work within the operational, historical, physical and political environments in Lawrence, but also perhaps the most important framework: financial.

Last school year, board members cut teachers’ professional development, increased the average class size by one student and made other program changes to slash millions of dollars in expenses from the district balance sheet to accommodate state budget cuts.

More cuts could be on the way this year, making the task force’s priorities that much more important.

“You have limited resources and plenty of options,” Doll reminded members of the task force. “What do you do?”

Answers to that question will come during the coming weeks and months, with the task force’s final recommendations due to the school board by February.


Robert Rauktis 7 years, 5 months ago

Teach the kindergarteners to play football. Then there'd be a place for them. The best of all worlds. Daycare and sports. Nothing would have more meaning.

cmdln 7 years, 5 months ago

Where would we get the funding for performance enhancing drug tests? And who would police for in ethical pay to play.

Clevercowgirl 7 years, 5 months ago

This article should be titled "Direction of Task Force Still Murky" . I hope that there is more focus and direction than is indicated by this article. This is not a three ring circus, it is the daily, and I mean daily, educational environment of our children. This process should be a very serious determination of the future education of our children. I hope that these comments are not representative of the quality of discussion this Task Force is engaging in over the future of Lawrence's education system.

mfagan 7 years, 5 months ago

From my observations, the task force has plenty of focus and direction. It's just that members are busy compiling basic information before moving onto the bigger issues: what to do with all the information, where to set priorities, etc. One of the task force subcommittees is tasked, specifically, with addressing "efficiency." That's the group that will be looking, most closely, at what role money plays in schools. Such issues eventually will be addressed by the entire task force, before the talk moves on to members of the school board. FYI: Rich Minder and Scott Morgan are both members of the school board and members of the task force... - Mark Fagan Schools reporter

Clevercowgirl 7 years, 5 months ago

In my opinion, politics should not have a major role in these discussions. Funding should be looked at in the light of doing what's best for our children. I think that it is very possible that I might have a different impression, were I to attend these meetings. Thanks for your input, I'll see you at the next Task Force Meeting.

greenquarter 7 years, 5 months ago

Why not have full-day kindergarten be an option for parents who want to pay more for it, as it is in some school districts? (It at least used to be this way in Olathe.) So kids at, say, Quail Run by default have half-day kindergarten, but if their parents want them to be there all day for whatever reason (more stimulation, ease of child care, etc.), they could pay extra.

Clevercowgirl 7 years, 5 months ago

Okay, but let's make the kids at Quail Run pay double, so the kids at Kennedy and Schwegler can go too. On second thought, what a bad, idea.

greenquarter 7 years, 5 months ago

The kids at Schwegler and Kennedy already go to full-time K, as do about half the elementary schools in town (generally the lower-income ones, though not necessarily). Quail Run is currently half-day. Not sure what exactly your point is.

greenquarter 7 years, 5 months ago

Ah, I think you thought I meant at all schools. I should have clarified that I meant that at schools that don't already have full-day K, parents could choose to pay for an all-day option.

formerlyanonymous 7 years, 5 months ago

All day kindergarten is not great for all kids....especially young boys. Maybe Scott Morgan should brush up on his research.

The parents who like it tend to like it because then they don't have to pay for daycare.

amrose42683 7 years, 5 months ago

Actually, the parents who tend to like it have to work all day and have no choice but to pay daycare for their child for after school. Maybe it's more a matter of parents would love to be able to spend time with their child once they're done school as opposed to, we don't want to pay daycare. No one wants to pay for daycare if they don't have to. I'll fully admit that I moved simply because I wanted my daughter in a district with full day kindergarten. She came from Hilltop at KU which was essentially a classroom from 8 - 5:00. I wanted to maintain as much of that learning time as possible ... the biggest difference now is that she gets far less recess time (only 15min three times/day ... which to me is even low for kindergarten standards), but a full day of education hasn't worn her down at all. She loves her school.

amrose42683 7 years, 5 months ago

I will also add that I don't have anything wrong with 1/2 day kindergarten, I just wanted to refute your opinion that those who send their children to full day kindergarten only do it because we don't want to pay for daycare.

kendall1 7 years, 5 months ago

I love the all day kindergarten thing. My child is in all day kindergarten at kennedy. my thought on the all day kindergarten that is a good idea because most childen already go to preschool all day so why not keep them learning in kindergarten and have them go all day. it does help to have them learn and be ready for what they are going to learn in years to come.

Jeanne Cunningham 7 years, 5 months ago

I think that all day kindergarten should be an option. Even though many children got to daycare, there are still some (hopefully, many) who are at home with Dad or Mom all day up until they begin Kindergarten. Those lucky kids need to transition to being away from home for such an extended period of time. Why should they have to give up the time they have been given to "just be a kid", when there are many who would love to have had that luxury? Or, should their parents be ostracized for having been able or having sacrificed to be with their child? Should they have to figure out how or if they will send their child to daycare, just so the child will get used to being away? That seems to be a terrible choice to have to make...

Let them just be kids for as long as possible!!!

volunteer 7 years, 5 months ago

Somebody apparently told Rich Minder to keep quiet and let Morgan do the talking.

Not a bad idea.

Susan Lee 7 years, 5 months ago

I do agree that for some children, being in all-day kindergarten is preferable to staying in their home - but this is certainly the exception, rather than the rule.

I agree with formerly your homework. All day kindergaraten is NOT the best choice for most children. I have not met a teacher yet who believes that is is in the best interest of children of this age.

Free babysitting.......

budwhysir 7 years, 5 months ago

we need a task force to review this??????

mr_right_wing 7 years, 5 months ago

This is unfair government-financed competition for the Lawrence daycare industry!

Clevercowgirl 7 years, 5 months ago

Next, there is going to be a correlation mentioned. "Well, if we didn't have quite so many elementary schools.....maybe we could have all day kindergarden for everyone".

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