Elizabeth Doney Havre Daily News email@example.com
Havre Public Schools is ready and willing to go forward with full-time kindergarten if the funding is provided at the legislative level, Superintendent Kirk Miller said. At the capitol, it has been brought to both the house and the senate to provide optional funding for full-time kindergarten in schools that it would be in best interest to do so. Two senate bills, 152 and 123 fought hard to stay alive, both having motions to amend out sections including provisions for fulltime kindergarten. A house bill, 152 that called for an increase in ANB funding for grades K- 12 was tabled in the House Education committee, meaning that no votes to pass the bill were cast and no action to carry the bill forward was taken. While the district awaits word from legislators whether full-time kindergarten will be funded, two separate committees have already made recommendations on facility feasibility and the most effective academic structure to implement the full-time kindergarten program into Highland Park Schools. Presently, the Havre Public Schools operates their kindergarten classes in an alternate day program with two and a half full days a weeks. Havre’s kindergarten students are currently in a half day program with some students going on Mondays, Wednesdays and Friday mornings and other students going on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Friday afternoons. According to recommendation by the facility subcommittee, the best option of starting up a full-time kindergarten program would be to occupy classrooms in the Devlin school which currently houses the Boys and Girls Club in the afternoon and evenings. The facility subcommittee was headed by Ric Floren with project team members Vance Blatter, Jeff Blessum, Charlys Doucetter, Kristy Fox, Linda Kaze, Dustin Kraske, Teresa Miller, Kathy Sather, Karen Swenson, Beth Williams and Ginger Zanto. The Devlin school is still owned by the Havre school district and while it has not had the upgrades that the other schools have had in the last five years, it would be the best option for the facility space. Other options that the committee worked on for the facility research project were modular classrooms and an addition to $1 million. The committee also looked into rental classrooms within the community, moving grade locations using current facilities, but their end recommendation was to use the Devlin school as a temporary solution, not to extend over 5-10 years and floor heating will eventually need to be replaced. The other committee explored the academic pros and cons of implementing full-time kindergarten and came away with the recommendation that they would like to see all day kindergarten offered at High Land Park school. Led by Highland Park School Principal Linda Kaze, the committee has completed three of four performance indicators that were assigned to their team in September. The fourth indicator will develop an action plan to implement the approved structure as a framework for a wellbalance kindergarten curriculum and is still ongoing. Committee members for the academic subcommittee were Linda Kaze, Blanche Anderson, Vicky Michels, Patty Miley, Teresa Miller Lisa Passon, Kim Tommerup and Mary Jo Wells. “We have been researching whether the school district should look into full-time kindergarten and we have decided that we would like to see full-time kindergarten implemented in Havre Public Schools,” Kaze said. The team looked at all the aspects, pros and cons, as to what is best for the kindergarten kids. From studying the national research, they have discovered that full-time kindergarten reduces transition time for the kids, increases individual time, and creates higher levels of comfort for the kids. The teachers found research that suggests that children may be disadvantaged in an alternate day classroom with respect to frequency of rehearsal and exposure to concepts, which may reflect a lack of continuity both at home and at school. “What we have now with our half day curriculum is a wonderful thing. It’s a strong program - we have our children reading with comprehension in our kindergarten classes,” Highland Park Kindergarten teacher Lisa Passon said. “With full-time offered, we could really expand and explore subject matters to a fuller extent.” “We certainly support the legislation for full-time kindergarten that includes start up costs,” said Miller. “However, if the bills pass without the start cost funding, we as a district would find a way to offer this programming to our students out of the general fund. It may not be the best business move, but it’s what’s best for the kids. We believe that it’s important enough to take on the start up costs through out district if we need to.” The total statewide project increase is estimated to be at 13 million over 2007-2008 and 15 million over 2008-2009. For more information on the status of these education bills, contact Miller at 265-4356.