An all-day kindergarten program for the Hayden School District is one step closer to fruition.
Hayden School Board members and Hayden Valley Elementary School Principal Mike Luppes agreed Wednesday to move forward with a formal survey that will determine whether families are willing and able to pay for an all-day program. The cost of a full-time teacher is estimated at $35,000, and the district says it can't afford to fund the position.
Colorado public schools receive funding only for half-day kindergarten programs.
"It's purely a financial issue, plain and simple," Luppes told School Board members. "If the parents are interested and willing to pay for it ... I'm all for proceeding to the next steps."
Those next steps would be seeking final School Board approval for the program and hiring an additional kindergarten teacher. The district has one full-time kindergarten teacher who oversees its two half-day kindergarten classes.
No one doubts the educational value an all-day program would have for students, Luppes said. Rather, it's the cost of implementing the program that leaves its future in question.
The district estimates it will have about 30 kindergarten students next year. If the families of 18 of those students are willing to commit to paying $12 a day for the 166-day school year, the district would generate enough money to hire a teacher. Several parents who attended Wednesday's meeting said they'd be more than willing to pay that much and more to help defray the costs for families who can't afford it.
Luppes said the $12 a day figure probably represents a maximum fee and could decrease depending on enrollment, the availability of start-up grants and how much each family can afford.
Parent and child-care provider Layne Walker is one of the parents who told School Board members she'd pay extra to make the program a go.
"As a parent, I think all-day kindergarten totally benefits the kids," Walker said. "My daughter is ready. I don't want to hold her back. I think she needs to be challenged."
A phone survey conducted by a parent indicated 18 of 25 families are willing to pay between $7 and $13.50 a day for an all-day program. Six of the 25 said they might be willing to pay, and only one said they wouldn't. Nearly one-third of the respondents cited financial concerns as an issue with the proposed program.
Luppes, along with one parent who attended the meeting, said they only would advocate an all-day program if it was for all kids, not just the ones whose families could afford it. Luppes said that if an all-day program is implemented, families could opt to take their children out halfway through the school day.
Luppes plans to mail the formal questionnaire by Monday. Hiring a qualified teacher and implementing the program won't be a problem even though the 2004-05 school year is only about three months away, the principal said.
In other School Board news:
n At least a dozen parents spoke in support of district band teacher Tim Watt, whose teaching contract was not renewed at the School Board's April 21 meeting. The nonrenewal was recommended by Superintendent Scott Mader and approved unanimously by the School Board. Mader said Wednesday that the district can't discuss the reasons behind the decision because it's a personnel issue.
Many of the parents who support Watt asked the district to help the band teacher address any problems it may have with his teaching instead of dismissing him, particularly given the positive influence and impact parents said Watt has had on their children.
n The School Board approved a preliminary budget for the 2004-05 school year.
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