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Kindergartners to start full day in Jefferson Co.

March 24, 1998|By CLYDE FORD

Kindergartners to start full day in Jefferson Co.

CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. - The Jefferson County Board of Education approved a plan Monday night to bring all-day kindergarten to Jefferson County elementary schools.

The program will be phased in over two years, beginning with students starting school this fall.

Sherry S. Hetzel, coordinator of instruction for Jefferson County schools, said research shows that all-day kindergarten is important to prevent problems in children and to build their reading and writing skills.

Some parents expressed concern at earlier meetings that all-day kindergarten was too long for children that age.

Other parents at earlier meetings said they wanted all-day kindergarten to begin in the first year possible because they were worried their children could fall behind.

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In the 1998-1999 school year, all-day kindergarten will begin at Blue Ridge, North Jefferson, C.W. Shipley and Ranson elementary schools.

In the 1999-2000 school year, South Jefferson, T.A. Lowery, Page Jackson and Shepherdstown elementary schools will have all-day kindergarten.

Jefferson County school officials looked at phasing in all-day kindergarten over three years, but went with the more costly two-year plan.

The three-year plan would have cost $402,230, while the two-year plan is expected to cost $642,230.

Jefferson County Superintendent David Markoe said the two-year program is better for the children.

The three-year plan would have saved money because space would have been created for more students at elementary schools with the opening of an addition at Jefferson High School, Markoe said.

Ninth-graders will be moved to the high school and sixth-graders will move from elementary to middle schools.

More portable buildings will be needed to house all of the students at the elementary schools in the two-year plan. One portable will be needed at Ranson Elementary in the first year.

In the second phase, seven portables will be needed, including three at Page Jackson Elementary.

In the three-year plan, only two portables would have been needed at the elementary schools because of the space created by moving out the sixth-graders, school officials said.

Hetzel said the school system would probably need more portable classrooms eventually because of the projected growth in student enrollment. The school system also may rent some of the portable classrooms as a way of saving money, she said.

About 15 additional teachers, teacher's aides and other staff members will be added throughout the elementary schools to handle all-day kindergarten.

The current pupil-teacher ratio is expected to increase at two schools - Ranson and Blue Ridge elementary schools - because of all-day kindergarten.

The ratio at the other schools will remain the same.

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