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Maple to offer 4-year-old kindergarten

The Maple School District will offer 4-year-old kindergarten programming for the 2009-10 school year. The school board approved the recommendation to add the programming, commonly referred to as 4K, during a Monday meeting. Only one member, Tim F...

The Maple School District will offer 4-year-old kindergarten programming for the 2009-10 school year. The school board approved the recommendation to add the programming, commonly referred to as 4K, during a Monday meeting. Only one member, Tim Follis, voted against the move.

"It's becoming the norm," said Board Clerk Eve Zosel. And, she added, "It's good for kids."

The program will include a mix of school- and community-based sites, with school-based classrooms proposed at Northwestern Middle School and Iron River Elementary School. Day care centers in the district will be given the opportunity to offer the 4K program, and Brule Head Start has already expressed interest in becoming a site, according to Northwestern Elementary School Principal Maija Alexandrou.

Options include 4K programming for two-and-a-half hours, four days a week, more suited to a day care center, or two full days a week for on-school sites.

"It's not watered-down kindergarten," Zosel told the board, but a play-based program that prepares students to enter kindergarten at age five.

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"As they come into kindergarten they've had the same types of exposure," she said.

The program is voluntary, but the district must provide for all who sign up.

A 4K programming meeting is set for 6-8:30 p.m. tonight in the Northwestern Elementary School media center. Child care providers and interested parents are encouraged to attend.

Parents should check with school and district newsletters for information on an upcoming 4K Round Up to sign children up for the program, Alexandrou said.

Materials and curriculum for each school-based site will cost approximately $15,000, according to Alexandrou. The cost for each community-based site is estimated at $3,500.

The children enrolled in the program will roll into the school's three-year count, which is used to calculate state funding. The state will provide extra funding for the first few years until 4K numbers roll in, Zosel said. The district plans to apply for a start-up grant, and it can also be supplemented with Title I funds, Alexandrou noted.

In financial news, the board adopted a resolution for a $600,000 loan to finance the renovation costs to the Gordon L. Nelson athletic complex. Funding for the $2.3 million project, made necessary by deterioration from age and by impairment to the former fields by construction, was approved by board members last year. The work was temporarily financed with interest earnings from the building fund, with permanent financing now being obtained, according to Director of Finance/Business Manager Paul Staffrude.

Those driving to Northwestern High School are encouraged to enter and exit the school through the Highway 2 entrance. Due to demolition work at the site, the south entrance to the school off Highway F will be closed and vehicles entering the north entrance will not be able to drive all the way through. Work on the project is 90 percent complete, the board was told Monday.

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A request by fifth-grade teacher Steve Lahti to take a year-long absence to work as an environmental inspector for Enbridge was denied, although there were two dissenting votes -- James Streveler and Gail Saari. Contract guidelines allow such leaves of absence for teachers to further their education, teach overseas or deal with health issues, Zosel said, but not for a job change.

She felt the district would have difficulty hiring the best substitute teacher under the circumstances. Board Member Brian Lind questioned what effect the move would have on the boys baseball team. Lahti is the head coach. Others were concerned this could set a precedent.

"I'm worried if something like this were to take place, next meeting two or three teachers would come in with the same request," Follis said.

Related Topics: DOUGLAS COUNTY
Maria Lockwood covers news in Douglas County, Wisconsin, for the Superior Telegram.
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