Early kindergarten registration for Soda Creek and Strawberry Park elementary schools is from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. today through Friday at each school. Children in the Steamboat Springs School District area who will be 5 years old as of Oct. 1 are eligible. Take immunization records, a birth certificate and proof of residence, such as a utility bill. Parents outside the school district can register, but will not be notified until the fall if accepted.
Tuition-based, full-day kindergarten will be offered in Steamboat Springs at the beginning of the 2008-09 school year, but logistics including how many students to accommodate and what space to use have yet to be decided.
The Steamboat Springs School Board on Monday ironed out a framework for implementing full-day kindergarten, firmly telling a room filled with concerned parents that the program will begin for at least some students in August and accommodate all students by the 2009-10 school year, if not sooner.
"We're going to have some full-day kindergarten in August," said Sandra Smyser, interim superintendent of the Steamboat Springs School District. "We're heading into tomorrow trying to figure out how to accommodate everybody - that's our goal."
Dale Mellor, finance director for the school district, estimated that implementing full-day kindergarten would cost about $360,000 annually, for needs including additional staffing and materials. The School Board voted unanimously in support of a tuition-based program, which would provide scholarships for needy families and possibly use a sliding scale of tuition rates. Mellor projected that 125 students could be enrolled in kindergarten in the 2008-09 school year. Mellor used a daily fee of about $16 in his cost estimate, but he and School Board members agreed that actual tuition costs would almost certainly be higher.
"It will for sure be more (than that)," School Board President Robin Crossan said.
School Board member Denise Connelly said tuition rates as high as $40 a day have previously been considered for kindergarten in Steamboat.
Smyser said space for full-day kindergarten programs will initially be limited by the ongoing construction of the new Soda Creek Elementary School and expansion of Strawberry Park Elementary School, projects that may not be completed by the end of August.
"I am not planning on being in the new school when school starts," said Judy Harris, Soda Creek's principal. "We're looking at one or two months (into the 2008-09 school year), at best."
The previous School Board appointed a committee in October 2007 to explore how to implement full-day kindergarten. On Monday night, Connelly and School Board member John DeVincentis continued to advocate for a program that would accommodate all students in the 2008-09 year.
DeVincentis said current classroom or building space could be shifted to allow full-day kindergarten, and it is "up to the administration to find the space to make it work."
"The space is there, we just need to be creative," he said.
Harris said she is prepared to explore such options. But Sam Rush, physical education teacher at Strawberry Park, said she is already "overwhelmed" by the amount of students in her classes and limited space.
"You add more children, (and) I don't know where to put them," she said.
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