Mehlville board to weigh OK of free, full-day kindergarten

Aid from state would provide full-day kindergarten funding

By Kari Williams

Tuition-free, full-day kindergarten could become a reality in the Mehlville School District, pending the Board of Education’s vote when it meets tonight — Nov. 29.

Superintendent Eric Knost plans to recommend approval of tuition-free, full-day kindergarten for the 2013-2014 school year when the board meets at 7 p.m. in the board room of the Administration Building, 3120 Lemay Ferry Road.

“The need for a tuition-free, full-day kindergarten program is evidenced in the newly adopted Common Core State Standards,” Knost wrote in information provided to the board. “These new standards include over 25 new highly rigorous kindergarten standards requiring the need for more instructional minutes.

“A full-day program should be the standard for all next-generation kindergarten students.”

Changes to kindergarten curriculum, according to information Knost provided to the board, include:

• Math: Addition and subtraction, previously introduced in first grade.

• Reading: Comparing and contrasting characters, events and ideas, previously introduced in third grade.

• Writing: Determining the meaning of words using prefixes and suffixes, previously introduced in fourth grade.

Funding for tuition-free, full-day kindergarten “could be provided through state aid as opposed to tuition,” Knost wrote, due to the district being on the state’s foundation funding formula.

Moving to free, full-day kindergarten, and adding three full-time personnel, the district would net $593,000 from the state in fiscal 2013-2014 with 512 students enrolled; $934,000 with 650 students enrolled, adding nine to 12 personnel; or $1,434,000 with 765 students enrolled, adding 12 to 16 personnel.

The district conducted an early enrollment week for full-day kindergarten in October, during which 512 kindergarten students registered for the 2013-2014 school year.

“We expect that total to increase significantly between now and August 2013,” Knost wrote.

Knost will present two enrollment scenarios, one with 650 students, the other with 765 students.

With 650 students enrolled, seven students would be relocated to different buildings — five from Oakville Elementary and two from Trautwein Elementary.

With 765 students enrolled, 43 would be relocated to different buildings — 16 from Oakville Elementary; five from Rogers Elementary; 13 from Trautwein Elementary; and nine from Wohlwend Elementary.

During a goals-setting session in January, the Board of Education identified implementing tuition-free, full-day kindergarten as a priority for the district.