Lincoln County Schools Superintendent Steve Boynton, probably still with some ringing in his ears from protest outcries and exclamations of misunderstanding from teachers, parents and maybe some students, Wednesday tried to set things straight about what is, and what is not going on, with rearranging schools county-wide to add full-day Kindergarten district-wide.
Boyton said the impressions that were migrating around the district about school changes to accommodate all day kindergarten, were very premature. He said everything is still in the talking stages. Any “near” final plan will have to go before the school board which will hold its own public hearings to get reaction from teachers, parents and citizens. In the meantime, there are public meetings scheduled to begin talking with teachers, parents and residents about all day kindergarten, what effects it may have on schools, bus routes and daily work loads for teachers and students.
In Lincoln City, public meetings are scheduled for:
* Wednesday, October 29, 6pm at Oceanlake School,
* Tuesday, November 4th, 6pm, Taft Elementary,
* Thursday, November 13, 6pm at Taft High
In Newport, a public meeting is set for:
* Wednesday, October 29th, 7pm, Newport High School Library (Boone Center)
The big push for all day kindergarten is coming largely from the Oregon Department of Education which wants to do something about Oregon’s low achievement scores among young learners. Boynton says a large portion of students entering first grade simply aren’t prepared. It shows, he says, that half-day kindergarten just isn’t getting the job done. So the state is implementing full-day kindergarten with strings and “some” money attached. That money will pay for extra teachers and teaching materials – but that’s about it.
So that’s the dilemma.
Boynton told reporters that there are some minor funds for making a few building changes, but not much more than that.
The upshot is that the only way to get more classroom space is to reopen Yaquina View School. And that means groups and organizations that now use that space will have to move out. New kindergarten classes will also mean that the former Arcadia School in Toledo will likely have to be re-opened, displacing some organizations operating there. Boynton said accommodations can be made for the Christian School to give them more time to find another location. However, he said the child care center may have to move more quickly.
There are also some logistics to work out for Siletz and Toledo families who may be affected by efforts to accommodate all day kindergarten between their two communities. Siletz has a charter school.
Lincoln City’s adjustments MAY include redrawing student boundaries with some Oceanlake children being transferred to Taft Elementary. Taft Elementary would be remodeled somewhat to create new classrooms space. Then special program services that don’t require classrooms would be moved to Taft High.
That would leave Oceanlake having kindergarten through 2nd grade, Taft Elementary with grades 3-6, and the rest at Taft High 7-12.
Preliminary discussions for Newport show that Newport High is already busting at the seams. No room for anything else. That puts pressure on Newport Prep Junior High and Newport Middle School – the high achieving Isaak Newton Magnet School.
Boynton says preliminary discussions show that Yaquina View School would take kindergarten through 2nd grade, Sam Case would become 3rd through 5th grades, Newport Prep 6th through 8th, and what happens to the Isaak Newton Magnet Program at Newport Intermediate school is unknown at this point. Currently they take select students grades 6 through 8th. Again, Newport High’s status doesn’t change.
For Toledo, they’ll be back using some classroom space at Arcadia Elementary, which has been used by other groups since the school was closed. Those groups, as we mentioned earlier, will have to find spaces elsewhere in the area. Toledo enrollments have fallen a bit so the situation, says Boynton, is a little fluid. Still he says that Toledo Elementary will likely need some remodeling to handle at least some changes.
The new relationship between schools, no matter how it turns out, will require at least 13 new teachers added to the school district employee roster. Again, the State Education Department provides the money for that since they’re the ones pushing for expansion to all day kindergarten. However, there is no money for buildings or building remodels.
Boynton says no decisions have been made – the exploration of options is still ongoing. However, between public meetings along the way, including in front of the school board, it all should settle out by January 1st so the district can be ready for school, with full time kindergarten, by the opening bell of school next fall.
Boynton reminded reporters, parents and regular citizens that Oregon’s K-12 education is not performing well, according to national test scores. And that something must be done about it. And that “something” is the proven effects of all day kindergarten. It works. It gets children ready to say goodbye to mom and dad for a while, focus their learning about being with other people and friends, develop social skills and have times times during the day to work on numbers, words and rudimentary reading and arithmetic. Boynton says all day kindergarten gives students a one and a half year learning advantage all the way through school.
Boynton says the district will be open and transparent through the entire process. He says he welcomes comments and questions about any and all aspects on how the school district adds full day kindergarten to its curriculum. He can be reached at 541-265-4403, or you can email him at Steve.Boynton@Lincoln.K12.or.us.