WCCS could streamline kindergarten

COLUMBIA CITY — The Whitley County Consolidated School Corporation is eyeing increased demand for all-day kindergarten.The result of the school system’s study, according to Superintendent Dr. Patricia O’Connor, is some of the corporation’s elementary school’s won’t have half-day kindergarten for the 2011-2012 school year.“We’re having a shift at our schools from parents wanting the children in a half-day program to parents wanting their children in a full-day program,” said O’Connor at the regular meeting of the corporation’s Board of School Trustees Monday night.For the 2010-2011 school year, according to O’Connor, students who attended kindergarten for a half day were in class in the morning, with the exception of Northern Heights Elementary School that had one half-day class of 13 children in the afternoon.At Coesse, two kindergarten classes were made up largely of all-day students, with six of the 35 students attending for only a half day.Little Turtle had four kindergarten classes. All four classes had either four or five children leaving at mid-day for a total of 18 half-day students of the schools’ total of 82 kindergartners.Mary Raber has two kindergarten classes, with only one, a class of 23, losing seven students at midday with a half-day schedule.Corporation-wide, there are 217 kindergartners. Of those, 44 students, or 20.2 percent, attended a half day.O’Connor presented the school board with a plan for next year.“This was a model that we came up with to accommodate the full-day, half-day conundrum,” she said.“We would be eliminating half-day kindergarten at two schools and combining them at the other schools.”O’Connor’s plan calls for the elimination of half-day kindergarten at Coesse and Mary Raber elementary schools.At Little Turtle, there would be 24 students attending a half day, divided evenly between morning and afternoon.Northern Heights would have one class of 20 kindergartners attending in the morning.O’Connor said the plan is a model based on this year’s numbers but agreed with board members who said the actual numbers could vary.“We won’t even know what our numbers will be until we’ve had a kindergarten roundup,” said board member Deborah Hiss.O’Connor also said if there was a large shift in half-day students, the plan could be altered to have the part-time kindergartners at a different location.The proposed kindergarten plan is scheduled for a vote by the board at its Jan. 17 regular meeting.Parents of students who attend kindergarten a half day, as well as those of kindergartners who qualify for free or reduced lunches, pay no tuition for kindergarten.For full-time kindergartners not on free or reduced lunches, kindergarten costs $48.70 per week, according to O’Connor.