Register Staff Report
RICHMOND — The most economical option for full-day kindergarten in the Madison County School District would conduct classes in four regional centers instead of each elementary school, according to Superintendent Elmer Thomas.
The plan would convert the present Mayfield Elementary School building into a kindergarten-only academy.
After the school board’s unanimous vote Oct. 10 to move forward with plan for all-day kindergarten, Thomas said he and his administrative team have been busy developing options to implement all-day kindergarten.
The board earlier voted for a tax rate that would raise revenue by 4 percent with the understanding that the extra money would be used to fund full-day kindergarten. Madison County is one of the few Kentucky districts with only half-day kindergarten.
“The board asked me to present them with a recommendation for implementing all-day kindergarten and we have been working to make the best recommendation possible,” Thomas said.
The superintendent, along with a planning team, looked at several options for the 2014-15 school year. However, only one option best fits the district’s needs, he said.
If approved by the board, Madison County Schools would open four kindergarten academies in the fall of 2014 to house all-day kindergartens.
“We have reviewed the possible plans and this option is in the best interest of the district,” Thomas said.
The Kingston and Waco elementary schools would each house kindergarten academies. Shannon Johnson Elementary in Berea would house an academy for kindergarten students in Shannon Johnson and Silver Creek elementary school zones and some students from the Kirksville Elementary School zone.
Mayfield Elementary would close as an elementary school and reopen as a kindergarten academy to house students from the White Hall, Glenn Marshall, Kit Carson, and Daniel Boone elementary school zones as well as some students from the Kirksville zone.
“This plan does so much for the students of our district and is clearly the most efficient plan as well,” Thomas said, adding that the recommended plan will relieve overcrowding and won’t require redistricting.
The total cost for implementing the plan would be around $930,000 annually, about what the tax rate would generate with the previous year’s rate.
The cost would include the pay and benefits for 13 additional kindergarten teachers and 15 additional para-educators.
Other considered options included all-day kindergarten at each elementary school with mobile classrooms added to overcrowded schools. The total cost to the district the first year would be about $1.86 million, which includes a one-time cost of $480,000 to purchase 12 mobile classrooms.
Adding all-day kindergarten at each school would increase the number of additional teachers to 20 with an additional 20 para-educators at an annual cost of $1.38 million.
The third option explored by Thomas and his staff was the possibility of completely redistricting the county to create space at each elementary school for the additional kindergarten classrooms needed.
After work to redistrict was complete, the district would still need an additional 20 kindergarten teachers and an additional 20 para-educators at an annual cost of $1.38 million.
“We want to be as efficient as we can be in creating this very important education opportunity for our kindergarten students,” Thomas said. “We believe creating the four kindergarten academies will give each child the best opportunity for a quality kindergarten experience.”
The board will consider the plans when it meets 6 p.m. Thursday in the Madison Southern High School auditorium in Berea.
To contact board members regarding all-day kindergarten or any school board issue, visit the district’s website for contact information, www.madison.kyschools.us.
See Sunday’s Richmond Register for a story that will include reaction from Mayfield parents and comments from Superintendent Elmer Thomas.