Every Day kindergarten views aired at meeting

From left, Eagle View principal Will Remmert, kindergarten teacher Julie Hull, Director of Educational Services Tony Buthe and middle school teacher Terrye Wagner were among those talking to parents about changes in the district’s kindergarten program. (Chuck Kajer Photo)

The New Prague Area School District held a meeting Monday, Dec. 2, for parents who will have children entering kindergarten in the next two years to share information about All-Day, Everyday (ADED) kindergarten.

About 24 parents attended the meeting at Eagle View Elementary School in Elko New Market to talk about options the district is considering. Currently, the district offers both every other day and ADED with parents who choose ADED paying additional tuition.

That will change next year, thanks to $134 million in funding from the state legislature that will fully reimburse the district for students attending ADED.

Tony Buthe, Director of Educational Services for the district, led the meeting, with elementary administrators and teachers and early childhood teachers on hand to answer questions about the proposal.

Eagle View principal Will Remmert noted that 70 percent of the districts in the state already offer some sort of ADED option, and the few that don’t most often aren’t able to because of space concerns.

Julie Hull, a kindergarten teacher at Falcon Ridge Elementary, went over a typical school day for ADED students and talked about some of the benefits they as teachers see for their students.

She noted that the rigor of kindergarten has changed over the years. “Much of what we teach in kindergarten wasn’t covered until first grade when most of you parents were going to school,” she noted.

Terry Wagner, a middle school teacher who helped gather information for the meeting, went over results of a survey of district parents. She said of those who have students entering kindergarten in 2014, 77.48 percent said they would prefer the ADED option, while 9.95 preferred Every Other Day (EOD). Just 1.57 percent wanted an every day, half-day option.

The numbers were similar for those with kindergartners entering in 2015, with slightly more preferring the half day over the ADED option.

A number of the parents at the meeting - about half of those present - expressed hope that the district would consider continuing to offer EOD kindergarten. Many said they understand the need for ADED, but felt their child would benefit from at home activities as well.

Jason Muhl, a kindergarten teacher at Raven Stream Elementary, said he currently teaches EOD kindergarten. He said there isn’t a great deal of difference in the materials covered in class. “We’re working to get the same amount of information to the kids that the other classes are getting,” he said.

Pat Pribyl, principal at Eagle View invited parents to make an appointment to talk to him and to observe a classroom. He also noted that when he came to the district as an administrator 12 years ago, two-thirds of kindergartners were EOD and one-third ADED.

“Over the years, that number has flipped,” he said.