The Richmond Register

November 27, 2013

Kindergarten meeting addresses transportation questions

By Crystal Wylie
Register News Writer

RICHMOND — Madison County Schools conducted an all-day kindergarten informational meeting Monday night at Madison Middle School.

Administrators were there to answer parent/caregiver questions, most of which were about student transportation.

“Full-day kindergarten is one of the most needed academic goals that Madison County Schools has had, that has really gone undone. It is a need that has not been met,” said Superintendent Elmer Thomas. “I think everyone in the room is excited about the possibility of full-day kindergarten.”

Thomas said he heard a number of kindergarten teachers “express their frustration” about not having enough instruction time with students.

“It does put our students behind academically,” he said.

On Nov. 15, the Madison County School Board voted 4-1 for a plan to house kindergarten academies at Kingston, Waco and Shannon Johnson elementary schools. The Shannon Johnson academy will serve students who will later attend Silver Creek Elementary and some who will attend Kirksville Elementary.

The plan will close Mayfield Elementary as an elementary school and reopen it as a kindergarten-only academy for students from the White Hall, Glenn Marshall, Kit Carson and Daniel Boone elementary school zones as well as some students from the Kirksville zone.

Director of pupil personnel Randy Neeley first spoke about the former Mayfield school zone and where Mayfield students will attend school next year.

Neeley said the district had three goals when determining school zones: to be geographical, logical and efficient; to have fair and balanced subgroups; and to have room for future growth.

Madison County continues to grow, he said. The estimated population is 80,000 and is expected to reach 90,000 in the next few years.

“We also need to think about, when we’re moving kids around … we need to take into account how that works with our feeder schools, Madison Middle, Clark-Moores and B. Michael Caudill middle schools,” he said.

A handout was provided for Mayfield parents with the list of streets that will be rezoned to different Richmond-area schools. The list also is available at madison.kyschools.us on the all-day kindergarten page.

Several streets were zoned for Kirksville Elementary, because “Kirksville has ample room,” Neeley said. Kit Carson and Kirksville both feed Madison Middle, which is not at capacity.

“We tried to keep the feeder patterns the way they are now,” he added.

Fewer streets were zoned to Daniel Boone Elementary because that school feeds Clark-Moores, he said. Adding too many students to Daniel Boone would decrease the capacity of Clark-Moores and decrease the enrollment at Madison Middle.

After moving kindergarten students to the Mayfield kindergarten academy and moving Mayfield elementary students to other Richmond-area schools, school populations will range from 432 to 601.

“Currently we have a school that has 277 students enrolled and we have a school that currently has 752 students enrolled — that population will shrink,” said Neeley, who pointed out that the plan will eliminate overcrowding in schools.

Neeley presented a list of projected school populations for 2014-15: Daniel Boone, 449; Kirksville, 589; Glenn Marshall, 479; White Hall, 601; Silver Creek, 443; Shannon Johnson, 538; Kingston, 526; Waco, 432; and Kit Carson, 510.

This year, the district grew by 165 students, he said. However, over the past three years, the district had grown in increments of 20.

Full-day kindergarten will bring more students into the district, said Neeley, “so we wanted to make sure we had room in all our elementary schools for future growth.”

An open-enrollment policy will allow students to attend a school in which they are not zoned if parents are willing to transport their child. A form can be signed by both the principal at the gaining school and the losing school, Neeley said. The form can be printed from the district’s website or is available at school offices.

Director of Operations Dr. Kevin Hub talked about what transportation would look like both to and from school.

Hub said he has a 10-year-old daughter and 6-year-old son, “so I know how important it is to get your babies from your home to the new kindergarten academy.”

For Kit Carson, Glenn Marshall and White Hall zones

There are three ways kindergarten students can get to Mayfield.

Students can ride a bus to their home elementary school with other elementary students. Shuttle buses, supervised by kindergarten para-educators, will transport kindergarten students to Mayfield.

“We’re going to have more para-educators than we do shuttle buses for all of the elementaries that are going to feed Mayfield,” Hub said. “That will give your son or daughter the opportunity to see a familiar face.”

The second option for parents is to transport children to the home school. For example, if a family had a third-grade student and a kindergarten student, both children can be transported to the home school and the kindergarten-only shuttle will take the kindergarten student to Mayfield.

The third option allows parents to take their kindergarten students directly to Mayfield.

The start time at the Mayfield kindergarten academy is 8:15 a.m., while the start time at Glenn Marshall is 8 a.m., Kit Carson is 7:55 a.m. and White Hall is 8 a.m. This allows time for parents to drop off elementary students at the home school and then their kindergarten students at Mayfield, if they choose.

For the Daniel Boone zone

Daniel Boone Elementary begins its day at 7:30 a.m., but the Mayfield kindergarten academy will begin at 8:15 a.m.

Kindergarten students in the Daniel Boone zone will be picked up on a kindergarten-only bus for the 8:15 a.m. start time.

For example, if a family has a fourth-grade student and a kindergarten student, the fourth-grade student will be picked up early enough for the 7:30 a.m. start time, and the kindergarten student will be picked up on the kindergarten-only shuttle a little later and be taken straight to Mayfield, Hub said.

For the Silver Creek and Shannon Johnson zones

Shannon Johnson Elementary has a 7:50 a.m. start time, but the kindergarten academy will start at 8 a.m.

Kindergarten students who live in the Shannon Johnson zone will be picked up during the regular elementary school routes.

Silver Creek also starts on an early schedule at 7:25 a.m. Silver Creek elementary students will be picked up for the early start time, but kindergarten students in the Silver Creek zone will be picked up shortly thereafter on a kindergarten-only shuttle and be taken to Shannon Johnson.

A question arose about the eight kindergarten-aged children of Silver Creek employees, who must be at Silver Creek early, but will have children who must be transported to Shannon Johnson.

Hub said the forum was a great way to learn about these special circumstances. Silver Creek school can be added as a stop for the kindergarten-only shuttle, he said. A para-educator can show up early at Silver Creek to accompany those students.

Hub said there will be enough para-educators to accommodate elementary schools with early start times.

For the Kirksville zone

Kirksville Elementary will feed both Mayfield and Shannon Johnson kindergarten academies.

Kindergartners zoned in a new Kirksville zone (those north of the Interstate 75 split) will be picked up and delivered straight to Mayfield.

Those in the Shannon Johnson zone will ride a bus to Kirksville Elementary and then ride a shuttle bus to Shannon Johnson.

Parents still have the option to take kindergarten students straight to Mayfield, but will not have a third option of dropping their kindergarten student off at Kirksville.

But, if there are enough parents who say, for example, they need to be able to drop their Kirksville fourth-grader and kindergarten student off at the home school, then a shuttle bus will be provided for those students, Hub said.

Taking students back home

In August, there will be eight buses that leave Mayfield each day as opposed to the current five, Hub said. “We are confident that with the greater population of students that are there … we’ll have plenty of space to accommodate parent pick-up and the new buses.”

The Mayfield kindergarten academy will end its day at 3 p.m., and Shannon Johnson will end at 2:45 p.m.

“The exact same three ways coming, you have the exact same options going home,” Hub said.

Students will be shuttled back to their home school and then board a regular bus to be dropped off at home. Kindergarten students who are picked up on a kindergarten-only shuttle will be taken home the same way.

Students also can be shuttled back to their home school and be picked up by their parent.

And again, parents have a third option of picking their child up directly from the kindergarten academy, he said. 

Hub said student pick-up times for bus routes will be determined in the spring. Bus routes can be found on the website, he said, but it will not work for the newly redistricted Mayfield students because it is a brand-new district. The number of kindergarten students in that district will need to be determined.

“We have to see where the buses are needed and that changes every single year,” he said.

Hub said he can meet with parents in person if they have questions about specific bus routes.

Crystal Wylie can be reached at cwylie@richmondregister.com or 623-1669, Ext. 6696.