Discussion of all-day kindergarten took center stage at the regular meeting March 10 of the USD 410 Board of Education.
?Kindergarten is the new first grade,? Superintendent Steve Noble said.
Teachers are being asked to do more, Noble said, because of increased curriculum rigor resulting from the switch to current college and career standards.
Also, the poverty rate is increasing in the district, he said, putting children at risk of poor academic performance.
Kindergarten teachers Tracy Boldt and Shari Sisk and Hillsboro Elementary School principal Evan Yoder spoke in support of all-day kindergarten.
?We need to teach it deeper, which takes more time,? Boldt said about the expectations for cognitive learning. ?We still have to include the social aspects.?
More children need to be reached, she said, and all-day gives more time to teach what is needed.
An added incentive, Noble said, is Gov. Sam Brownback?s recent request to begin full funding for all-day kindergarten.
?There is a proposal in concept only to make a shift and not add any additional cost to our operating budget,? Noble said about implementation in USD 410. ?We?ll need to prioritize.?
Noble said he?s received mixed responses, with some in strong support while others are skeptical.
?The needs of the children in this community are changing,? he said.
No action was taken but the board gave its support for Noble to bring a formal proposal next month.
Regarding budget challenges for 2014-15, Noble reviewed with board members an extensive list of possible nonpersonnel cuts, many short-term, totaling $137,550 (see sidebar).
Adding those cuts to the $270,977 designated for personnel cuts brings the total to $408,527.
But even with the cuts, a gap remains between the district?s projected revenue and expenditures.
?We?ll have to cut another $377,470 if the district doesn?t get any help (through increased enrollment),? Noble said.
No action was requested.
The three building administrators presented their quarterly reports.
Max Heinrichs, Hillsboro High School principal, said he?s been able to add pathways in biochemistry and animal science using classes already being taught.
?It will give students more opportunities as they move into college,? said Hein?richs, who continues to be involved at the state level with Project Lead the Way.
Project-based learning is coming out of the core classes, he said.
Principal Greg Brown of Hillsboro Middle School reported students receiving high scores in reading and looking to improve in math.
Brown said he anticipated growth over time with use of an intense math curriculum.
Yoder gave updates on the playground improvements, progress on the School to Farm initiative and the Walking School Bus, scheduled to begin March 25.
In his superintendent report, Noble reviewed the Kansas Supreme Court ruling that the Legislature has not funded the school finance formula over the past several years and is required to fix it by July 1.
?It would take $129 million,? Noble said, adding that most of the funding adjustments would result in relief for taxpayers.
If the Legislature pays what the court says, he said, the mill levy for taxpayers would be reduced by 4 mills.
In other business, board members:
? received a framed plaque in appreciation of their service.
? approved continued participation in Parents as Teachers in Marion County for 2014-15.
? approved the 2014-15 calendar.
? voted 7-0 to declare 10 acres of USD 410 land located at the north end of Adams Street, directly south of the city of Hillsboro?s maintenance shop, as surplus property.
The board then voted 6-1 to use sealed bids to sell the property, with the buyer not taking possession until the fall crop is harvested by the current renter.
? approved the vehicle-replacement plan as presented.
? approved computer purchases of $62,844 for 2014-15.
? approved changes in personnel after meeting in executive session?retirements of Vera Isaac, third-grade teacher, and Rita Loewen, elementary art and music teacher; termination of Amanda Marlar as bus driver and shop attendant; work agreement for Russell Bennett as bus driver and shop attendant; and supplemental contract for Tammy Ollenburger for the Walking School Bus.
? approved to extend the facilities lease with Grace Community Church starting April 7 through April 5, 2015.
? discussed the idea of board members being elected at-large rather than by positions. The change would need to be approved by voters, Noble said, adding that more and more school districts are going to at-large representation.
? met in executive session for negotiation. No action was taken.