By Kalen Ponche
Wentzville School District will move to a full-day kindergarten starting next fall. The Board of Education voted 6-1 at the board meeting Thursday to approve the change from the half-day program, at least for the next two years.
While the district has room to accommodate the additional kindergarten classrooms in most of the elementary schools now, enrollment projections show the district would run out of space for the program by the 2013-14 school year.
Superintendent Terry Adams told the board he planned to return later this year to ask them to approve a tax rate increase which would pay to expand district elementary and middle schools and the first phase of a third high school.
It’s still unclear where kindergarten students at Green Tree Elementary would be housed. The school is already squeezed for space. Right now the music teacher teaches on the stage and other teachers put their supplies on carts and travel from room to room.
The district had initially planned to have some of the kindergarten students from Green Tree attend Prairie View Elementary and then move back to Green Tree for first grade. But many parents opposed the plan.
The district is hoping to get approval from the City of Lake Saint Louis to put two temporary trailers which would house four classroom. If the City doesn’t approve the use of trailers, some parents said they’d rather have their children in a half-day program than go to another school, even temporarily. The school district likely won’t find out whether the trailers are approved until the March 15 Board of Alderman meeting.
Director David Ness, who cast the dissenting vote, said he felt as though the district was rushing in to the decision. “I want to make sure that if we’re going to do it, we do it right, not run it for two years, run out of money and take it away,“ he said. “If we plan for 18 months down the road we could possibly do it.“
Some parents spoke out at the meeting and asked for the district to offer a half-day program in addition to the full-day kindergarten. One group of parents spoke out at the board meeting and said the district should offer a half-day program in addition to the full-day program.
“We feel it may be beneficial for some children, but feel the half day option should be kept for some parents who do not want their children sitting in school all day long,” said Alison Malek, a district parent.But the majority of parents and community members who attended a recent meeting on the issue offered complete support for the full-day program.
Director Joe McDonald said he’s confident the district can work through any concerns parents have over the issue, but parents don’t have to send their kids to the full-day program if they don’t want to.“There’s an overwhelming feeling this is in the best interest of our kids,” he said.