Rows of chairs to seat the public remain empty at most monthly USD 410 Board of Education meetings.
But the proposal to offer elective full-day kindergarten for 2014-15 brought a contingency of parents to the April 14 meeting.
Hillsboro Elementary School principal Evan Yoder reported more than 80 percent of families represented at kindergarten screening requested a preference for the full-day option.
He said he wasn?t surprised by the number because many parents work and require childcare.
Seven families wanted half day, Yoder added, with a couple undecided.
For those parents who want a half-day session, Yoder said he hopes to offer a section that would run slightly differently than full-day sections.
?I think there?s a good chance we can make it work this year,? Yoder said about that option.
Superintendent Steve Noble cited two primary reasons to offer full-day at last month?s BOE meeting: increased rigor of kindergarten curriculum and more children at risk of poor academic performance in the district.
During Citizens Open Forum, parent Andrew Jost read a statement. Jost affirmed Yoder?s intention to offer a half-day section, but asked the board to seek ?to positively reinforce the irreplaceable impact parents can have on their children?s most formative years.?
For all children in the community to do well in life, Jost stated, he believes ?our focus needs to be in recognizing greater responsibility within the home.?
During discussion that followed, Yoder responded to questions from several parents.
One asked whether children who attend half-days will be behind the others.
?Typically, we?ll try to get most of the core materials in the morning,? Yoder said.
But he said he wasn?t sure just how the schedule would work.
?We?ll let you know if your child is behind.?
Most Kansas school districts now provide all-day kindergarten, Noble said, although kindergarten attendance is not state-mandated.
?Parents can do what they want,? he added.
Noble said the district is re-prioritizing funding to enhance early childhood offerings, one of its goals.
Board president Eddie Weber thanked the parents for attending the meeting, and member Deb Geis praised Yoder for communicating well with parents and emphasized the need for continued clear communication in future years.
The board voted 5-1 to approve the elective kindergarten program beginning 2014-15. Member Joe Sechrist cast the dissenting vote.
The district received one sealed bid to purchase the 10 acres of land made available at the March meeting. Grace Community Church submitted a bid of $55,101 and the required earnest money of $5,000.
Board member Rod Koons said he planned to cast a ?no? vote because the board had publicly discussed $4,000 per acre as an acceptable amount, which initially had been communicated to the person representing the church.
Koons said he thought the district was pulling back on that amount by accepting a higher bid.
?It?s not the way I would do business,? Koons said. ?We changed our mind.?
Sechrist and board member Mark Rooker disagreed.
The board had decided to accept sealed bids so all those interested could submit a bid.
The board approved 5-1 the sale to Grace Community Church for the amount of the bid.
More budget cuts
The board met in executive session for more than an hour to discuss matters of personnel.
The board then approved the following personnel cuts, totaling $254,748: activities director, mechanic, district office administrative assistant, counselor and art/music teacher for HES/HMS, second-grade teacher, and at-risk and kitchen aides at the high school.
In addition, the board approved $137,550 of non-personnel cuts, listed in the March 19 issue of the Free Press.
Noble announced HHS graduation is slated for 4 p.m., Saturday, May 17, at Joel H. Wiens Stadium. He encouraged all board members to attend.
In other business, the board:
? approved raising the local option budget 31 percent, which has to be voter approved on or before June 30.
The special election will be June 17, Noble said.
The increase allows the district to capture more state aid, he said.
If approved, he said, the board can then raise LOB to 33 percent for 2015-16, which could result in a projected $159,000 increase in budget authority for the district and help maintain the status quo.
?I think it?s a no-brainer?a win-win,? Noble said about the vote for the LOB increase.
? approved a resolution to change the BOE method election and voting plan from three member districts to seven at-large members.
? approved Noble sending a written letter of support from USD 410 to Tabor College for its Signature Campaign to build a fine arts center.
? approved a 0.7275 part-time elementary art/music position for Rita Loewen.
? reviewed a list of facilities repairs.
? heard reports by Sechrist for Marion County Special Education Cooperative and Rooker for Technology Excellence in Education Network.
? met in executive session for negotiations. No action was taken when the public session resumed.