Tuesday, November 20th, 2012
By Shelley Grieshop
St. Henry schools to expand kindergarten
  ST. HENRY - Students attending kindergarten next year will spend a full day, every day, in the classroom.
Board of education members Monday night approved all-day, everyday kindergarten for the 2013-2014 school year. The school currently has four classes of kindergarten students that attend full days on an alternating basis of two or three days per week.
The cost to implement the all-day, everyday program was not discussed during the meeting Monday. Elementary principal Sandy Stammen told The Daily Standard the details are still being worked out, but she expects to hire the equivalent of 1 1/2 teachers.
"We'll know more this spring when we do kindergarten screening" and examine enrollment figures, she said.
Board president Bruce Miller asked if there was adequate room in the elementary area to make the transition. Stammen said a county preschool program now operating in the kindergarten area likely will be moved to another site to free up a classroom.
When asked about feedback, Stammen said most parents seem to favor the idea. She personally believes it will better prepare students to pass the required achievement tests by third grade.
"The curriculum for kindergarten kids is written for all-day, everyday classes," she said, adding it's now difficult for teachers to complete the lesson plans in the minimal time they have with students.
She also noted that today's kindergarten students "need to be writing, reading and solving math facts" by the end of the year.
In 2010, Ohio legislators passed House Bill 1, which required school districts to switch to all-day, everyday kindergarten by the 2011-2012 year. Schools were initially allowed to apply for a waiver to delay implementation; St. Henry received waivers for two years.
Last year - in an effort to lessen school funding woes - the state passed an amended bill, H.B. 30, which eliminated the all-day, everyday requirement.
In related action, the board approved a new kindergarten enrollment deadline. Beginning the 2013-2014 school year, children must be 5 years old by Aug. 1 to attend. The current deadline is Sept. 30.
Board members also,
• presented a special pin to high school junior Elizabeth Diller for taking first place in September in a national 4-H competition for electrical wiring. Diller, who initially took her project to the state fair, was required to do a written and oral presentation on the subject of Electrical Wiring in Homes at the national contest at Purdue University.
• approved the annual Chicago trip for fifth-grade gifted class students on May 9 and 10.
• accepted the resignation of head cross country coach Mike Eyink, who has taken the high school team to the state tournament the last six years.
• accepted the resignation of Lisa Brackman as the eighth-grade girls basketball coach this year. The board approved the hiring of Melissa Starkey to take Brackman's place.
• accepted the resignation of bus driver Bob Uhlenhake, who is retiring effective Jan. 1.
• approved a waiver request to the Ohio Department of Education by Valerie Scott of the Mercer County Education Service Center to add one more student to the preschool special education class housed at St. Henry schools.
The district must apply for the waiver when all eight spots already are filled.
• accepted the resignation of cafeteria worker Lisa Homan, effective Dec. 1.
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