School Superintendent Clint Keener said there’s a strong possibility the district will seek a waiver on implementing all-day kindergarten for a second year while district explores its options for the now mandatory program.
“I’ll make a recommendation to the school board in January, but right now I’m leaning that way,” Keener said.
Administration and school board officials discussed at the Dec. 13 school board meeting options on how the district should implement the program that now lame-duck Gov. Ted Strickland and state legislators made mandatory in the last biennial budget. With the passage by Bay Village voters in November of the operating levy, district officials have been mulling how to proceed.
“Finding the additional classroom space is now the biggest issue,” Keener said. “The passage of a new operating levy means the school district can budget for four additional classroom teachers. However, four additional classrooms will be required. The space is not currently available at Normandy Elementary, where the district’s kindergarten classes now take place.”
District officials commissioned a facilities plan last year which dealt with the issue. In the proposed plan, six additional classrooms would be added to Normandy Elementary. They would include the four additional kindergarten classrooms as well as two special needs classrooms currently housed at Glenview, which also offers the required special needs classroom, infant and child daycare, regular pre-school and before and after-school care.
“That plan, which is the long-term ideal, will require passage of a bond issue,” Board President Bill Selong said.
However. Keener and board officials noted they had decided not to place a bond issue on the November ballot because of the tight economy.
“It’s still pretty tight, so we need to look at some interim solutions,” Keener said.
He said one such solution could be renovating part of Glenview’s top floor, which currently is the before and after-school care center. The district could also lease space or temporarily add modular classrooms, though Keener added he would prefer to invest those dollars in a facilty the district already owns.
“All interim space options would take additional dollars from the district’s operating budget,” Keener said.
Board Vice President Amy Huntley noted the levy only addresses funding for the staff or teacher’s portion of all-day kindergarten.
“The facilities side is a separate funding issue,” she said. “A bond issue would allow the classroom addition to be added without using operating funds. Renovation dollars before a bond issue is passed would need to come out of our general fund.”
She said the district still needs to work out the facilities portion of the plan.
Selong said he would rather make a decision that the district could live with for an extended period of time.
“We will need more time to study our options and consider the costs of each option,” he said. “But we need to make this decision as early as next year sp that families who have kindergartners next year can plan according to their own needs.”
Keener said the first step is whether to seek the second-year waiver.
“That will have to come first, then we’ll go from there into the next phase of the decision,” he said.