Kindergarten draws concern

Parents want to have all-day, everyday kindergarten and are confused about why the district does not have it, they told the Wadena-Deer Creek School Board on Monday.

Parents want to have all-day, everyday kindergarten and are confused about why the district does not have it, they told the Wadena-Deer Creek School Board on Monday.

About 20 parents and teachers attended Mondays meeting, and several spoke in favor of all-day, everyday kindergarten. Parents said they wanted kindergartners to spend more time in the classroom and that the district is losing families through open enrollment because WDC does not have all-day, everyday kindergarten. They also wanted to know why WDC does not have everyday, all-day kindergarten.

Sharla Fillhouer, a parent, said kindergarten has changed. Kindergartners now learn a curriculum based on five classroom days when WDC students are in school for only two days a week, she said. By being in school only every other day, kindergartners cant be expected to learn a five-day curriculum, and now junior kindergarten has been eliminated, she said.

Becky Bowen, another parent, said she thinks the consistency of going to school every day is important. She questioned how having all-day, everyday kindergarten could affect the budget when it could cost only a fraction of a percent of the budget.

Peggy Larson, another parent, asked if having all-day, everyday kindergarten wasnt offered because of the budget, why it couldnt have a sliding fee scale like preschool does. She also questioned when all-day, everyday kindergarten stopped being an option. At kindergarten roundup on April 10, elementary principal Louie Rutten said that all-day, everyday kindergarten was not an option for this years kindergarten.


Larson wondered how everyday, all-day kindergarten went from being an option to not being an option. When school board members were considering closing the WDC elementary school in Deer Creek, maps showing classroom placement for all-day, everyday kindergarten and every-other-day kindergarten options were drawn.

Many people are confused about what is happening with all-day, everyday kindergarten, said Mandy Gallant, junior kindergarten teacher.

Judy Taves, school board chairwoman, said the decision not to have all-day, everyday kindergarten was included with the February school board decision to eliminate junior kindergarten.

In an interview, Enget clarified the decision. All-day, everyday kindergarten was not included in the school board members motions at any school board meeting. Because changing kindergarten was not included in any motions, kindergarten will stay the same all day, every other day.

With the lack of discussion concerning all-day, everyday kindergarten at the school board meetings, some parents and teachers thought the board might still make the decision to have all-day, everyday kindergarten.

After the decision was made to eliminate junior kindergarten and offer the curriculum through a preschool collaboration, a parent asked about all-day, everyday kindergarten at the February meeting. At that time, the board moved onto the next item of the agenda and did not answer the parents question. The board did not further discuss the topic at the meeting or during the March school board meeting.

I walked away thinking it was going to be discussed, Gallant said at Mondays meeting.

Enget said he thought it was clear that all-day, everyday kindergarten wouldnt be offered. He said its been two months since the decision to cut junior kindergarten, and no parent has asked him a question about all-day, everyday kindergarten since.


Larson said she had been talking with Louie Rutten, elementary principal. She also said she wanted to hear from the board.

Taves was the only board member to speak on the topic at Mondays meeting. She mainly said the decision not to have all-day, everyday kindergarten was made with the February decision to cut junior kindergarten.

A parent at Mondays meeting asked if all-day, everyday kindergarten could be added to a school board meeting agenda. All-day, everyday kindergarten was not part of Mondays agenda.

Enget said it could be added. He said he would like parents to speak to him directly.

He addressed the budget issues concerning all-day, everyday kindergarten. For two or three years, the district has hoped to implement all-day, everyday kindergarten, Enget said. However, he said, the district needs to make budget cuts. The school board approved $478,182 in cuts at the April board meeting.

I dont want to put it on and need to cut it, Enget said.

He also said all-day, everyday kindergarten is one of the states goals, but the Legislature talks about adding days to the school year, too, which would be another expense.

Parents also asked if area schools can afford all-day, everyday kindergarten, why Wadena-Deer Creek cant.


Enget said many variables go into how a school can fund all-day, everyday kindergarten, such as poverty areas.

The costs of all-day, every day kindergarten werent available at press time.

At the meeting, Jolene Johannes, a parent, talked about the long-term effect of losing kids through open enrollment because WDC doesnt have all-day, everyday kindergarten. She suggested using all-day, everyday kindergarten as a marketing tool. When kids open enroll, the district does not lose them for just one year, but for 13 years, she said.

How can you afford not to have all-day, everyday kindergarten? Johannes asked.

In other business, the board:

" Approved capital requests. Capital requests, including technology, totaled $271,000. Requests included new carpet for six elementary classrooms, playground equipment, computer desks, tree removal, sidewalk replacements, keyless door locks, blacktop repair at the bus drive and a warehouse roof.

" Approved cuts of $478,182. Cuts include savings for replacement of Patt Knudtson, family life science teacher; Brian Maki, assistant principal and activities director; and Carol Bruns, special education teacher: $60,000 total; not replacing Karol Brusven and Nance Brandborg, special education, $134,000; not replacing three elementary teachers, $134, 600; not replacing a part-time math teacher, $26,582; Deer Creek supplies/utilities, $15,000; custodian, $30,000; cutting three clerical/paraprofessionals, $45,000; busing, $20,000; Deer Creek staff mileage, $5,000; coaching reductions, $5,000; Deer Creek phone fiber costs: $3,000.

" Approved a one-year child care leave of absence for Crystal Kennedy, band director.


" Listened to superintendent comments. Freshwater will do $9,000 in remodeling at the Deer Creek school. Freshwater will pay for the cost. Remodeling includes putting a conference room in the library.

" Terminated teachers Deborah Rokenbrodt, high school math teacher, and elementary teachers Douglas Paulson, Lisa Smith and Charles Eggert. The teachers being not renewed has nothing to do with performance, Enget said. Its finances.

" Heard that Maki is stepping down from his assistant principal and activities director jobs to become a WDC social studies teacher. In his resignation letter, he said the new job would offer less stress and a smaller workload.

" Listened to principals reports. Prom is Saturday. Transition groups regarding the move for the fifth- and sixth-graders move to Wadena will continue to meet.

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