Herald JournalWinsted-Lester Prairie Journal, May 27, 2002

LP kindergarten stays half-day

By Julie Yurek

The kindergarten class in Lester Prairie will remain half-day, every day for the school year 2002-03 as decided by the school board at last Monday's meeting.

The board reversed its course on the issue, following feedback from parents at a meeting May 13.

The issue started after the kindergarten roundup April 8, during which no mention of a different schedule was given to parents at that time.

After the roundup, the public was notified that the district intended to change the schedule from half-day, every day, to an all-day, every other day schedule.

A public forum was scheduled to talk about the issue May 13, during which about 27 parents showed up explicity asking to stay with the previous schedule.

During the board meeting Monday, Elementary Principal Pam Lukens recommended staying with the half-day, every day schedule for next year, and to look into different programs for the year after that.

However, parents can probably expect the schedule to change the year after that, board member Fred Blaser said. "If we wait a year to change the schedule, it gives parents more notice."

"By extending the time period before anything is changed, it gives the board a chance to get the input from citizens of Lester Prairie," Blaser said."I personally would like to see all-day, every day kindergarten."

Lukens gave a summery of the meeting with parents from May 13.

Top concerns voiced by parents were that all-day, every other day is not as beneficial to the children, parents worried about consistency, many parents already had day care or work arrangements in place, and many also worried about transportation before and after school, Lukens said.

Lukens estimated about 27 families were present, and an almost unanimous vote was cast to keep kindergarten half-day, every day, she said.

"Many parents stated that the reason they enrolled their children in kindergarten in Lester Prairie was because of the half-day, every day program," Lukens said.

"Parents were also worried about children who need special education, like speech therapy and how every other day class would affect the student," board member Nancy Krull said. She was also present at at he meeting May 13.

Speech therapy is only on certain days of the week, not every day, Lukens replied.

"With an every other day program though, students could easily miss a lot of opportunities to work with the speech teacher if they end up missing school." Krull said. "It would have an impact on student achievement."

"There were comments of going elsewhere. Others said they'd stay, but said the subject should have been brought up at kindergarten roundup," Krull said.

Some expressed opposing opinions. One parent would love to have kindergarten all-day, every day, Shelley Trettin said. "It would help with day care."

The other parent disagreed. "Kindergarten is a transition year. We don't need to put our kids through a full day of school," Steve Ziermann said.

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