Thursday, January 12th, 2012
By Margie Wuebker
Kindergarten likely to go all day next school year
  NEW BREMEN - All-day, every-day kindergarten could be offered as early as the next school year at New Bremen schools.
Board members listened Tuesday night as teachers Donna Schmitmeyer and Debbie Miller gave a presentation on the matter and indicated action could be forthcoming at the next meeting.
The official hiring of middle school principal Howard Overman as superintendent also took place at the meeting. His five-year contract carries a beginning salary of $93,745 with the effective date being Aug. 1. The 53-year-old administrator is in his 16th year with the school district.
The agenda also included the election of Kami Fox as board president and the swearing in of Fox and new board member Scott Bertke.
Elementary principal Diane Kramer prefaced the kindergarten presentation by noting she is impressed with the performance of students involved in all-day, every-day programs at other school districts.
New Bremen's current 65 kindergarten students attend classes two full days and one half day per week.
"Young children learn better in smaller chunks and through repetition," Schmitmeyer said. "We need more time for academics and to help students develop social skills. Right now we are doing what we can."
The teachers admitted time constraints prevent them from reteaching and reassessing students with difficulties as they would like.
All but four of the current kindergarteners have attended at least one preschool or nursery school prior to this year. Several attended more than one preschool in the course of a day.
"The benefits outweigh the additional cost to the district," Kramer said. "This is particularly true as we rush to introduce new content as part of the common core standards."
The Ohio Board of Education mandated full-day kindergarten Monday through Friday beginning in the 2009-2010 school year; however, many districts such as New Bremen requested two-year waivers.
Celina, Coldwater, Fort Recovery, New Knoxville, Parkway and St. Marys school districts already have all-day, every-day kindergarten.
Interim superintendent John Basinger asked for a consensus on the matter with no board members airing negative comments. He had no cost estimates regarding the new program, other than to say a third teacher would be needed. Space and supplies are available for another class, he said.
Kramer said 52 prospective kindergarten students are anticipated for the March screening. However, the number tends to grow in the months before classes begin. Forty-five attended the 2011 screening but class numbers grew to 65.
In other business, the board:
• Accepted a $100,000 donation earmarked for technology purposes. The donor wishes to remain anonymous.
• Listened to comments made by local resident Gary Ahrns regarding questions he has about the proposed construction of a new K-8 building as part of an Ohio School Facilities Commission project. Representatives from Freytag & Associates responded to his questions and discussed minor changes to the preliminary plans that should be available for display next week.
• Learned 17 employees have contracts expiring at the end of the current school year and evaluations will be needed.
• Learned the high school football coaching job has been posted with the Ohio High School Athletic Association. There is no teaching position available for the successful candidate, although that could change due to retirements or resignations.
• Set 7:30 p.m. Feb. 15 as the next meeting time at the high school community room.
• Met in executive session to discuss the appointment or evaluation of a public employee. No action was taken following the closed-door discussion.
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