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Jefferson Co. reviewing new kindergarten plan

February 24, 1998|By CLYDE FORD

Jefferson Co. reviewing new kindergarten plan

CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. - All-day kindergarten would begin for some Jefferson County youngsters next school year under a proposed plan presented to the Jefferson County Board of Education Monday night.

All-day kindergarten would be phased in over a three-year span under the plan. The school board is expected to make a decision on the plan at its March 9 meeting.

All-day kindergarten was mandated by the state in 1996 and school officials have sought waivers since then because there was not enough classroom space available.

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Studies have shown that children who attend all-day kindergarten have better test scores when they enter the first grade and have better reading skills, said Sherry Hetzel, coordinator of instruction for Jefferson County.

She chaired a 12-member committee made up of educators and parents who looked at classroom space and staff needs.

Sylvia Geiman, of Harpers Ferry, W.Va., a parent on the committee, said she believes some parents will be upset about having their children in all-day kindergarten, while others will welcome it.

"It's going to be a long day for some of those kids," Geiman said.

Geiman said some parents will have to do more with their children to get them ready for being in school all day.

Jefferson County Schools Superintendent David Markoe said he hopes to make a smooth transition by phasing in all-day kindergarten. Two of the schools have small all-day kindergarten programs already under the federal Title 1 program, he said.

Under the proposed plan, all-day kindergarten will start at Blue Ridge, North Jefferson and C.W. Shipley elementary schools in the 1998-1999 school year, Hetzel said.

The cost to add all-day kindergarten at the three schools would be $298,000, she said.

In 1999-2000, all-day kindergarten would be added at Ranson and South Jefferson elementary schools, she said.

The cost would be $250,000 there, and portable classrooms would have to be installed to make room, she said.

In 2000-2001, T.A. Lowery, Page Jackson and Shepherdstown elementary schools would be added to the all-day kindergarten program.

That is the same year that the Jefferson High School expansion is to be completed. Sixth-graders would be moved from elementary schools to middle schools. Ninth-graders would be moved to the planned expansion at the high school.

The cost would be $486,000 if the high school expansion is complete, but could go up by an additional $300,000 if it is not because of the need for more portable classrooms.

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