School Board approves pre-K programThe Jamestown Public School Board moved one step closer to a program for future kindergarten students and their parents at Monday’s meeting. Superintendent Bob Toso presented the board with a cost estimate of $10,900, which doesn’t include a $5,000 grant for the Gearing Up For Kindergarten program.
By: Ben Rodgers, The Jamestown Sun
The Jamestown Public School Board moved one step closer to a program for future kindergarten students and their parents at Monday’s meeting.
Superintendent Bob Toso presented the board with a cost estimate of $10,900, which doesn’t include a $5,000 grant for the Gearing Up For Kindergarten program.
“This is a complete guess because it’s a brand new program,” Toso said.
The ultimate cost comes down to the number of students. There was also a $5,000 grant for the North Dakota State University Extension Service program.
The program would put 4-year-old students and their parents into five two-hour classes. The students would spend 45 minutes on activities with their parents. The groups would separate for the rest of the time.
One NDSU Extension agent would also help with the program.
“We’ve got some positive feedback from the people we talked to,” Toso said.
The program could start as soon as next June, even though at least one person involved would have to travel to Mandan next week for training.
“You have to commit to the program and go to the training,” said David Saxberg, director of elementary education. “You have to learn more about it.”
Toso said the educators who would be involved are excited for Gearing Up For Kindergarten.
“I don’t think there was a kindergarten teacher that didn’t approve of this,” he said. “In fact, there wasn’t. They were very excited about it.”
Board members were on both sides of the fence.
“It’s helping parents get a handle on what can better equip their children get through school,” said Shelly Jystad, School Board member.
Roy Musland said he wasn’t sold on the program.
“I don’t believe that putting a 4-year-old in a public school setting will improve their ability to learn,” Musland said. “... At some point it’s not the responsibility of the school to raise the students.”
Money spent for the program could be reimbursed if the board decides not to continue with it, Toso said.
“We’re not absolutely committing ourselves to this if we go to training,” said School Board member Rosemary McDougall.
Parent involvement was a vital part for some members.
“I think putting the money at the front end is a wise thing to do,” said Diane Hanson, School Board member. “Especially with getting the parents involved.”
The board approved 6-2 going forward with the program. Hanson, Jystad, McDougall, Greg Allen, Gary Peterson and Heidi Larson voted yes; Musland and Tanya Ostlie voted no. Gail Martin was absent.
The board also unanimously approved adding an additional section of kindergarten at Gussner Grade School.
Currently there are an estimated 160 students entering kindergarten, and with eight sections that would mean more than 20 in each section. Toso said those numbers are too high.
“We feel confident that we have the numbers to warrant it,” he said.
The School Board also approved two no-cost tuition agreements for two Jamestown High School students to attend schools outside of the district. The vote was 5-3 with Hanson, Ostlie, Musland, McDougall and Jystad voting yes, and Peterson, Larson and Allen voting no.
Sun reporter Ben Rodgers can be reached at 701-952-8455 or by e-mail at email@example.com