Archive for Monday, April 18, 2011

First Bell: Wakarusa Valley invites public, seeks yearbooks, for 50th anniversary event; Eudora boosts fees for all-day kindergarten; four Lawrence elementaries expected to remain without full-day K

April 18, 2011

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A few education-oriented items from around the area and elsewhere:

Wakarusa Valley School is preparing to celebrate its 50th anniversary, and the public is invited to join in the party.

The celebration is set for 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. May 1 at the school, 1104 E. 1000 Road. The school is just outside the southwestern edge of Lawrence, southeast of Clinton Lake.

Some public help also is being sought. Sonja Hart, PTO president, is on the lookout for Wakarusa Valley yearbooks from the years 1967 to 1975.

Anyone with such yearbooks is asked to contact Hart, who would be interested in borrowing them. Her phone number is 749-2896, or you can send email at hartmsg@sbcglobal.net.

The celebration will be the last for the school, at least for a while. On March 28, members of the Lawrence school board voted to close Wakarusa Valley at the end of the school year, a move intended to save nearly $500,000 and to help improve the efficiency of the district’s remaining school buildings, given the upcoming move of sixth graders into middle schools next year.

District administrators are discussing options that could include moving the district’s Lawrence Virtual School to the site, a plan that would keep the building maintained and therefore also available for community events and organizations.

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The Eudora school district is retaining full-day kindergarten, but it will come at an increased price for participating families during the coming school year.

The family of each child attending kindergarten in 2011-12 must pay a $250 fee per semester, members of the Eudora school board have decided. That makes the annual fee $500, or an increase of 500 percent from the $100 charged during the current school year.

Board members approved the increased fees after an extended discussion regarding overall finances, including a proposal that would have eliminated several teaching positions in the district.

Superintendent Don Grosdidier had offered another option, one that would have increased the $100-a-year fee to $100 per semester, but board members opted for the $250-per-semester fee.

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

Parents may get more information Tuesday, during Kindergarten Roundup at 7 p.m. at Eudora Elementary School.

Full and partial fee waivers will be available for students or families who qualify for free or reduced-price lunches. Payment plans also will be available for families looking to spread out the costs over the school year.

Grosdidier noted that the new fee would still be less than what several other nearby districts charge.

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Speaking of full-day kindergarten...

Earlier this month, the Lawrence school district agreed to expand full-day kindergarten programming to Broken Arrow and Sunflower schools for next year. The district does not charge additional attendance fees for full-day kindergarten, but the program still won’t be available in all elementary schools.

Four schools in the Lawrence district are scheduled to remain without full-day kindergarten next year: Deerfield, Langston Hughes, Quail Run and Sunset Hill.

According to a report compiled by the Lawrence district, of 280 districts in Kansas:

• 246 districts offer full-day kindergarten in all of their elementary schools.

• 27 districts do not offer full-day kindergarten.

• Seven districts, including Lawrence, offer some full-day kindergarten.

In all, according to the report, 651 elementary schools in Kansas offer full-day kindergarten.

— The First Bell mailbox is always open. Please feel free to send me any feedback or ideas, at mfagan@ljworld.com.

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