School Board discusses full-day kindergarten

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School Board races shaping up

All three open seats for the Steamboat Springs School Board will likely be contested, as Steamboat resident Lisa Brown's candidacy petition was certified Monday night.

Anne Muhme, the district's assistant to the superintendent, said Brown joins Education Fund Board President Robin Crossan and Laura Anderson as the three official candidates.

Brown plans to run for the District 2 seat held by School Board member Jeff Troeger, while Crossan will run for the District 4 seat held by School Board member Char Rusk. Anderson will run for the District 5 seat held by School Board member Jerry Kozatch.

Anderson's candidacy petition was certified Friday.

Troeger, Kozatch and Rusk had not turned in completed petitions as of Monday. All three board members have previously indicated they plan to run.

The petition deadline is Friday at 4 p.m. Interested candidates must gather 50 signatures from registered voters who live within the school district's boundaries.

— The Steamboat Springs School Board discussed implementing a full-time, district-wide kindergarten program Monday night, but board members acknowledged it could be an expensive and lengthy process.

"This is the issue I have received the most comments on," said School Board President Denise Connelly. "It's a very popular issue, and it will affect the whole community."

It is not mandatory to attend or provide kindergarten in Colorado, but there currently are 118 students in half-day kindergarten programs at Soda Creek and Strawberry Park elementary schools.

Dale Mellor, director of finance for the Steamboat Springs School District, said the district would need almost $200,000 more a year, just for personnel costs, to expand kindergarten to a full-day program.

"That doesn't include the additional supplies, desks and computers," he said. "And that's assuming we have room for them in the new Soda Creek building."

Board member John DeVincentis said space has been reserved for additional kindergarten rooms in the new Soda Creek, which is expected to open sometime during the 2008-09 school year. He proposed splitting the extra cost of implementing full-day kindergarten among participating families.

"That comes out to be about $1,600 a year for full-day Kindergarten, which is a bargain for working families compared to full-day day care," said DeVincentis, who noted many families pay up to $55 per day for day care. "Over the course of the year, that's one-tenth what they would have paid."

Connelly advised creating a committee of the two elementary school principals, teachers, parents and an Education Fund Board representative to further explore the issue.

"We like it. We see the need. We see the benefits," Connelly said. "The biggest thing is the funding. There may be a sliding scale for parents. This could be an issue for the Education Fund Board with the half-cent sales tax. It would be great to see it state funded."

Also Monday, the board approved an intergovernmental agreement with the Steamboat Springs City Council for an after-school program in the future Soda Creek building.

The program will have an 800-square-foot storage room and access to gym space and other portions of the school.

"The city has paid $16,000 to the school district for help in the design work on the building, and the city will contribute another $234,000 for construction of the room," said Mellor, who noted the district has to keep the room designated as an after-school program for a minimum of five years, or repay a pro-rated share of the city's contribution.

The School Board also spoke with Todd Ficken, project manager for the district's major construction projects. He told the board that overall, construction at Soda Creek and Strawberry Park is going very well.

"It's calm, orderly and it looked very nice," Ficken said of the first day of school Monday at Soda Creek. He added that security concerns raised by parents have been discussed with local law enforcement agencies.

"Some people are worried about the modulars being so close the street without a (perimeter) fence," he said. "But there is a system of controlling how people come on to the site : it would be a challenge to fence it. There are safety issues such as snow removal and having only one exit in case of a fire."

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