KinderPlus will stay

By: Terry Oparka | Troy Times | Published March 23, 2011

 Certified kindergarten teacher Debbie Stacey reads to the KinderPlus students at Schroeder Elementary March 18. Afternoon activities are designed to enhance the morning academic curriculum.

Certified kindergarten teacher Debbie Stacey reads to the KinderPlus students at Schroeder Elementary March 18. Afternoon activities are designed to enhance the morning academic curriculum.

Photo by David Schreiber

Advertisement

The Troy School District’s all-day kindergarten program will stay after the Board of Education heeded numerous parents’ wishes that the program not change in light of budget cuts the district is considering.

The district faces an $8 million cut in funding based on Gov. Rick Snyder’s proposed budget, Troy school officials say. The board will consider the budget proposals at its April 19 regular meeting and must adopt the 2011-2012 budget by July 1.

The original proposal to change the KinderPlus program would have provided a certified teacher in the morning only and would have resulted in a $1,000 tuition reduction for parents. The district had proposed replacing the certified teacher in the afternoon session with a certified caregiver to avoid passing a $450 tuition increase on to parents.

Kerry Birmingham, communications director for the district, said the district was looking to eliminate any subsidy for the program. It costs the district $150,000 to run the program.

The current cost to parents is $3,000 per student. Next year, the total cost for tuition will be $3,450 per student to cover the district subsidy. The program is offered at all the elementary schools in the district, and there is a waiting list for the program at Bemis Elementary.

The board decided by consensus at a March 15 workshop to keep the KinderPlus program the way it is. KinderPlus will offer kindergartners morning instruction with a certified teacher and activities designed to enhance morning instruction in the afternoon with the same teacher. The district has offered the program for more than 10 years.

During the community meetings at all four middle schools the week of March 7, a large number of parents said they would be willing to pay extra for the program.

“We love the program,” Birmingham said. “We were concerned about the financial burden on families.”

“Parents see a value to consistency,” Janet Keeling, assistant superintendent for elementary education, said, speaking to the fact that the same teacher is with the students all day.

“Obviously, there’s a large interest in this,” Board Trustee Gary Hauff said. “This is too important to ignore.”

“As long as parents are willing to make up the difference, the district has no interest in changing the program,” Troy School District Superintendent Barbara Fowler said.

“We wanted a teacher in the classroom, not a day care provider,” said Hamilton Elementary parent Nicole Mahoney, who works part time as a pediatrician and has in-home care for her three children. Her first-grader was in the KinderPlus program, and Mahoney plans to enroll her other two children in the program next year and the year after.

“We’re willing to pay the money,” she said. “We (parents) are pleased with the (board’s) decision.”
 

Advertisement