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Highland BOE OKs daily kindergarten for 2014-15 year

11/21/2013 - West Side Leader
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By Scott Kriska

At the Highland Board of Education meeting Nov. 18, board members approved a new kindergarten program that will offer all-day every-day kindergarten beginning in the 2014-15 school year.

Before members voted, Superintendent Catherine Aukerman presented a proposal for the new kindergarten program for the district’s elementary schools. She said Ohio law previously required districts to have all-day kindergarten programs, but has since dropped that requirement and left the decision to the school districts.

Aukerman said Granger, Sharon and Hinckley elementary schools currently run a kindergarten program that includes all-day classes every other day with alternating Mondays, with no tuition required. She said a daily kindergarten program will give more instructional time in preparation for stricter educational standards. She said the new program also will allow for larger blocks of instructional time, more one-on-one time, more enrichment opportunities and stronger relationships.

Before members voted, they discussed areas of concern about adopting the all-day daily program. Aukerman said the program requires an additional four or five teachers.

Board members said the proposed budget will allow for the funding of the program without charging tuition.

Aukerman said the district also is required to offer a half-day program in addition to a full-day program, which parents will have the option of choosing. She added one-way transportation will be provided for the half-day program.

Hinckley Elementary School kindergarten teacher Maribeth Rohrbaugh said the program should help students meet the Third Grade Reading Guarantee.

“There are too many gaps in the schedule now,” Rohrbaugh said. “We will eventually fall behind other districts if we don’t start this program.”

In other business:

  • Highland Board of Education President Dr. Norman Christopher and board member Dan Petek welcomed Chris Wolny to the school board. Wolny defeated Petek in the November General Election and will take the seat in January.
  • Board member Diane Thomas said the Highland Foundation benefit dinner held at the Weymouth Country Club recently was a success. She said more than 260 people attended the dinner.
  • Resident Christopher Karwowski expressed his thanks to the Highland Foundation and the school board for their involvement in the College Now program, which provides students with help in applying for scholarships. Karwowski also reminded the public Sharon Township’s TubaChristmas concert will take place in the Sharon Circle Gazebo Nov. 23 at 4 p.m. [For more on that, see Page 30.]
  • Aukerman provided the first reading of several new and revised policies. The board will vote on adoption of the changes to the policies next month.
  • Aukerman explained a change in Ohio law will replace the minimum number of days in a school year with a minimum number of hours and eliminate the five calamity days starting July 1, 2014. She said the new law will change the minimum school year from 182 days to 910 hours for all-day kindergarten and first through sixth grades, and 1,001 hours for seventh through 12th grades. She said all of Medina County’s schools will be on the same calendar for the 2014-15 school year.

The board then adopted the 2014-15 school year calendar. The first day of school will be Aug. 20, 2014, with the last day of school being May 28, 2015.

The board also approved the following:

√ the Highland Middle School trip to Washington, D.C., March 18-21;

√ donations to Granger, Sharon and Hinckley elementary schools from the schools’ PTO organizations and the TeleTech Community Foundation;

√ the use of facilities in all of the Highland schools for various school events; and

√ the 2014 Ohio School Boards Association Legal Assistance Fund Consultant Service Contract and the Community Education Agreement for fall 2013

The next Highland Board of Education meeting is set for Dec. 16 at 7 p.m. in the Media Center at Highland High School, 4150 Ridge Road.

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