School board approves junior kindergarten kindergarten
The Mobridge-Pollock School District took steps Monday, May 13, to change the opportunity of children in the district to get a quality education experience.
With a series of changes in staffing, the board of education opened doors for younger students to get a foot up in education by re-establishing a birth-to-second-grade position in the district. Prior to last year, the district had a teacher felling this position. The current Birth to 3 coordinator in Mobridge has found students who will benefit from this program. In the past there were three to five students in the district that fit into the program. This year there will be 12 to 15 students.
The board also approved hiring a junior kindergarten instructor for the 2013-2014 school year. The class is designed to help those kids who may not be quite ready, socially or for other reasons, for kindergarten. Kids whose birthdays are in the spring and summer, because they are younger, benefit from the junior kindergarten concept.
Presently there are eight students who fit the guidelines of the program. Mobridge-Pollock Superintendent Tim Frederick told the board the present staff supports establishing this program.
He told the board it would benefit the district to provide the services these students need before they get into the school.
“By hiring these two position we will meet the needs of students in this age group,” he said. “It is important to develop this type of program as it will benefit these kids and the district in the long run.”
The board also approved a change in requirements for an instructor to replace math teacher Justin Kappes. The district will hire a high school social science and language arts instructor. Currently there are three math teacher positions in the high school. Two of those positions are now open with the resignation of Kappes and Dustin Jahraus.
“We are better served as a district to have two and a half math teachers and two a half science teachers,” said Frederick. “It will allow the district to offer more elective classes to students, which is what we need. At the present time we have students have open periods and no classes for them to attend.”
With the change the district will be able to offer humanities, Native American studies, creative writing and anthropology, among other electives.
“With the numbers indicating we will have 30 more students in the school in the near future, this is the time to make this change,” he told the board.
Frederick introduced the provisional budget for the 2013-2014 school year and reminded the board it will undergo many changes before the final budget is approved. He said discussion among members of the finance committee centered around the ability to sustain the current programs in the district with the cuts in federal program funding and being able to move forward with new programs that include new technologies. He said the loss of the $310,000 in the Sig Grant funds, $270,000 of which is used to pay salaries. The loss of this funding will have an impact on programs and staff and this would be a priority with the finance committee.
He explained the district could experience funding losses in Title (federal) programs as much as 6.8 percent. Frederick said it was thought that the district would lose Perkins funds, but it seems that will not happen in the 2013-2014 school year.
He explained that because of the manner in which some federal funding was implemented in the district, there would be a 1.8 percent penalty in these programs. This occurred because a mistake was made when paying a grant writer for work that secured funding for the school construction projects in 2010-2011.
Because the payment brought the balance for federal and state grant funding below the required 90 percent of the previous year’s funding, the district will be penalized 1.8 percent of that funding. The Finance and Management Office of the South Dakota Board of Education implemented the penalty on all federal and state grant funding. It will be between $6,000 and $7,000, according to Mobridge-Pollock Finance Officer Kim Scheinder.
Frederick said the penalty would not be a large financial blow to the district, but it will mean the district will need to use some funding from other budget categories to pay salaries and programs in the next school year.
The final budget will be introduced at a public hearing in August and approved in September. It needs to be approve before October to be ready for the county for local funding.
Frederick also explained the district would pursue funding for a classroom innovation grant for both the high school and middle school for the next school year. The grants would bring an additional $25,000 in funding for the schools for a program for a teacher effectiveness pilot program that measures professional practice and student growth.
– Katie Zerr –