John DeVincentis, Ph.D.: Add a kindergarten teacher

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After reading a Steamboat Today article in which Donna Howell, superintendent of schools, stated that out-of-district kindergarten students would be taken off the Strawberry Park Elementary School rolls, I want to give a different point of view and explain why I would keep those students enrolled. Those seven students would bring state funding at about $3,600 a student or $25,200 total, enough to pay for an additional kindergarten session.

In addition, by keeping the out-of-district students, Strawberry Park's kindergarten classroom enrollment for next year would be 21, 22, and 22 students. Anyone would agree that Steamboat Springs schools should not have kindergarten classes that large.

But, by removing the out-of-district students, next year's kindergarten classes, at this point, will be 19, 19, and 19.

By keeping the out-of-district students and adding another kindergarten session, Strawberry Park's kindergarten class enrollment would be 16, 16, 16, and 17. Steamboat's kindergarten children and out-of-district kindergarten children would be the benefactors of those additional enrollments.

Keeping the out-of-district students would have cost the school district nothing, and it could have brought in additional state funding to our district for the next 12 years while our children and theirs would have benefited from this smaller class size.

As educators, our decisions should reflect the focus of concern for our children and families. The parents, who talked to the Strawberry Park office staff and me, said that they were told at Soda Creek Elementary School and at the district office that no decision would be made until August, not late June.

Until last year, we (Soda Creek principal Judy Harris and I) have made decisions within the first two weeks of June -- usually by phone. Those parents needed to make daycare plans. They live out of district and work in Steamboat Springs.

I ask the School Board and superintendent to be a clear advocate for our community's (and communities') children and enroll the out-of-district children and add another kindergarten session using the additional state funding so that we are all winners.

Editor's Note: John DeVincentis retired in June as principal of Strawberry Park Elementary School.

John DeVincentis, Ph.D.

Steamboat Springs

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