Moffat County eliminates half-day kindergarten | SteamboatToday.com

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Moffat County eliminates half-day kindergarten

In other action

In other action, the School Board approved, 5-0, a motion to increase art curriculum in elementary schools to once a week. Art classes previously were offered once every two weeks.

The Moffat County School Board approved, 4-1, a motion to offer only full-day kindergarten for the 2009-10 school year, in a meeting Thursday night.

Officials said offering a separate curriculum was unjustifiable because of low interest in the program.

“Our intent was to offer half-day kindergarten, but requests were so low,” superintendent Pete Bergmann said. “We just aren’t in a position fiscally to go on with it.”

Two months ago, the School Board accepted all-day kindergarten but wanted to offer parents the choice of a half-day when registering their children for school.

As the requests unfolded, out of the 195 registered children, only nine registration forms requested half-day programs.

“We anticipated higher interest in half-day,” Bergmann said. “And I would have to recommend to not offer it next year.”

Bergmann said some supporters of half-day kindergarten were disappointed but understood the necessity of the decision.

Other parents still argued for the right of a parent to choose what kind of early childhood education is best for their children.

Sarah Peterson, of Craig, attended the meeting to share her opinion with the board.

“I think full-day kindergarten is wrong,” Peterson said. “Children need to be with their parents when they are that young. I think some parents just want to put their kids in all-day kindergarten because they don’t want the responsibility of taking care of their children.”

Board member JoAnn Baxter said the all-day kindergarten program is not necessarily meant to be a baby-sitting service.

“This is a good, solid curriculum,” Baxter said. “I think the board, the administration and the parents can work around individual issues, as well.”

Bergmann said he discussed with a few parents the option of allowing some children to attend kindergarten only half the time. No separate curriculum would be offered, however, and Bergmann said it would be the parents’ responsibility to catch their children up on what they missed in the classroom.

Board member Trish Snyder voted against the elimination of parents’ choice in the matter.

“As a parent, I just can’t support this,” Snyder said. “I saw the numbers, and I understand why we had to make this decision, but I still think the parents should be able to choose.”

The School Board also voted unanimously to approve the 2010 school budget in its meeting Thursday.

The budget, which totals $20.6 million, will run a $195,000 deficit. The district’s reserve fund balance will cover the deficit expenses.

Bergmann said it was a good idea to approve the spending of part of the fund balance because most of the costs were one-time expenses.

“A good portion of (the deficit) are one-time expenses as a result of the transition,” he said. “And that’s what that balance is for. It’s to have a back-up when we are looking at some rough times.”

Bergmann said if the fund balance weren’t used this year, some programs and personnel would have been cut.

“The administration and the board had to make some tough decisions,” he said.

No personnel cuts were made due to funding, and programs such as the art curriculum in the elementary schools and a reading program in the middle school are expanding.

Bergmann says goodbye

Thursday night marked the last School Board meeting for superintendent Pete Bergmann. At the end of the meeting, board members thanked him for more than 30 years of service and leadership in the School District.

“It’s been a good, fun run,” Bergmann said.