District to offer full-day kindergarten in 2009

By Carolyn Cole
Published on June 12, 2008

Mustang School District officials pledged Monday night to move to full-day kindergarten in August 2009, two years before the state mandate takes effect.

MSD Superintendent Karl Springer told Mustang School Board members the district’s teachers are telling pre-kindergarten parents enrolling their 4-year-olds to expect the full-day program.

“We will have all-day kindergarten in 2009-2010, or we will die trying,” Springer said.

Mustang School District has saved $400,000 in this fiscal year toward funding the program, Finance Director Kay Medcalf said.

The only factor that could stand in Mustang’s way is state funding cuts, Springer said. If schools face deep cuts in state aid in the next fiscal year, which is possible if the economic downturn results in lower than expected tax revenues, school officials will have to take a careful look at the situation, he said.

To move to a full-day program, Mustang schools must double the number of kindergarten teachers and classrooms. One year ago, a committee reported it will cost at least $4 million to implement.

Construction workers started building 20 additional elementary school classrooms this winter using funding raised from last spring’s bond election. Ten classrooms will be added at Mustang Centennial Elementary, six at Mustang Valley Elementary and four at Mustang Trails Elementary.

Once those classroom additions are completed, which is expected in spring 2009, Springer said a full-day kindergarten program will move from speculation to a reality.

With the new classrooms built, school officials will still need to hire between 16 and 18 new kindergarten teachers, costing more than $600,000 in additional salaries. Medcalf said school officials plan to set aside another $400,000 in the next fiscal year, giving the district $800,000 in savings for new salary costs.

While state lawmakers have provided some additional funding for full-day kindergarten programs, Springer said it’s not enough to cover the new costs. Right now, kindergartners attending a half-day program are weighted in the education’s state aid formula at a 1.3. Full-day kindergartners are weighted at a ratio of 1.5, which Springer said means school districts are granted between $200 and $300 per student to pay for additional materials, new teachers and infrastructure.

When the committee studied full-day kindergarten last year, Elementary Curriculum Coordinator Cindy Schmidt said they found studies that indicated students who attended all-day programs showed improvement in literacy, language development and readiness for first-grade than their half-day counterparts.

“There are benefits seen both socially and emotionally, and there is also evidence in schools that have gone to all-day, they have a reduction in (grade) retention and remediation rates,” she said.

The committee also studied how schools incorporated their full-day kindergarten classes. Some schools offered art, music and physical education classes to kindergartners, while others incorporate the curriculum into their classrooms.
Most kindergartners eat lunch in the school cafeteria with other students, but one district’s officials served younger children in their classrooms.

“We really feel at this time we have sufficient curriculum for an all-day program,” Schmidt said. “We would have opportunities for reinforcement and more time to work on what we have now.”

School board members also approved an application for temporary appropriations for fiscal year 2008-2009. Medcalf said the procedure allows the district to pay costs as it starts the new fiscal year July 1. The district will present the temporary appropriations for approval at the county excise board later this month.

The district shows an estimated $40.3 million for its general fund, $1.5 million for its building fund, $3 million for its child nutrition fund and $2 million for its MAPS for Kids fund. In June 2007, the district’s temporary appropriations form showed lower figures in its largest three funds — $37.1 million for its general fund, $1.3 million for its building fund and $2.7 million for its child nutrition fund.

Athletic Director Mike Clark also brought concerns to school board members related to the football and basketball schedule calendars published by outside businesses.
A local business owner received an advertising solicitation for a calendar Mustang school officials did not authorize and were told a percentage of the proceeds would benefit athletic programs, he said. This problem has happened in the past, and he said the only benefit athletics received was T-shirts to throw out at games.

“They contact these businesses, these businesses are trying to help us in anyway they can,” he said.

The district has contracted with Freelance Photography, a local company, to print calendars. Clark said any other solicitation is not authorized by his department.
“They were bringing in several thousands of dollars in business under the pretense that they were giving to the program,” Clark said.

The board also approved:

-A MAPS for Kids bond funds request for $213,500 to replace the Mustang North Middle School south parking lot. Burkey said the surface has buckled and cannot be patched. Workers would replace the surface with 6 inches of concrete, and construction will take place during the school year.
-Scheduling parent-teacher conferences from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. Oct. 21, Oct. 23, Feb. 3 and Feb. 5.
-A bid for $131,550 for a water-cooled chiller from Streets Inc. for Mustang High School’s Central Building’s air conditioning system. Burkey said the bid included a maintenance contract.
-A bid for $39,900 from Gail Armstrong Construction to remodel the entryways at Mustang Middle School, Mustang North Middle School and Mustang Creek Elementary School and install security doors. Burkey said once construction is finished, visitors will enter the school buildings through the offices rather than walking directly into school hallways. The work is expected to take 80 days.
-Renewing the district’s property insurance with Chubb at a cost of $115,456, which is $5,346 less than last year’s premium.
uRenewing the district’s general liability, employee benefits liability, certified acts of terrorism, educator’s legal professional liability and commercial automobile insurance with National American Insurance Company at a cost of $134,836, a $850 increase over last year’s premium.
-A contract with Oklahoma School Assurance Group for workers’ compensation insurance at a cost of $267,898, which is $4,101 more than last year’s contract.
-A $68,206 change order from Gail Armstrong Construction associated with the installation of a fire line and hydrant at the health and wellness facility, which is under construction at the Mustang High School campus.
-Creating a personnel director’s secretary position.
-Scheduling professional development for half a day each on Aug. 15 and May 26.

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