Changes in store for B-A kindergarten students

Changes are in store for next year’s kindergarten students in the Bellwood-Antis School District.
Several parents of future kindergarten students attended the latest Bellwood-Antis School Board meeting this month as rumors of changes at the school were circulating.
Board president, Donna Tyler addressed the concerned parents saying, “The board has been working very diligently with elementary school principal Terri Harpster, and we’re going to try to make this as easy a transaction as possible.”
Harpster presented plans for next year’s kindergarten scheduling to the board but did not answer questions from citizens, saying a special meeting is planned to discuss the upcoming changes.
A parent meeting will be held next Tuesday evening, March 28 at 7 p.m. in the Myers Elementary School all-purpose room.
The meeting is planned for parents or guardians of students entering kindergarten for the 2006-07 school year.
This will provide an opportunity for parents to view the revised morning and afternoon schedules and discuss arrival and departure times, the daily schedule, food service and transportation. Each attendee will be given a copy of the proposed changes.
While this meeting will provide much information and will answer parents’ questions, it will not provide parents with specific information on their child’s teacher, transportation time or which session they will attend. Kindergarten session information (morning or afternoon) will be provided at kindergarten registration. Assigned teacher and transportation information will be forthcoming this summer.
Plans for next year’s scheduling include the possibility of extending the kindergarten school day from two-and-a-half hours to four hours a day.
According to Harpster, extending the hours provides more time for students to spend on phonics, kid writing, reading groups and math.
With the current schedule, teachers are only able to fit in the basics. For example, they often have to pass up using manipulatives during math class because of the time constraints. At this age level, manipulatives can really help students grasp different concepts.
There are other adjustments that will have to be made to accommodate the changing schedule. A part time teacher will need to be hired to work in both of the kindergarten classrooms. Also, an elementary secretary will have to extend her hours to field calls for transportation and kindergarten aides will need to be trained in guided reading.
“Our other aides are trained in guided reading, but not our kindergarten aides. That is something we should change,” said Harpster.
All of the schedule changes would also mean an adjustment for the kindergarten teacher, who would lose planning time.
When asked by the board how the teachers felt, Harpster said, “It’s an obvious change for them but they’ve been excited about it from the get go.”
Harpster also pointed out this is only a temporary transition into full day kindergarten.
Other items discussed included a breakfast and lunch schedule, transportation schedules and special classes such as music, gym, art and library.