Only two of seven school districts in Medina County — Black River and Wadsworth — will offer all-day kindergarten in the 2010-11 school year. The other five are seeking a waiver from the Ohio Department of Education.
Black River Local Schools
Black River Local Schools is the only district in Medina County where kindergartners attend school for a full day, every day.
“We’ve had all-day, every day kindergarten for five or six years, so it doesn’t really impact us,” Superintendent Janice Wyckoff said.
The district has offset the costs of all-day kindergarten by not running buses all day, as it would if kindergarten students finished earlier or started later in the day, she said.
The Brunswick school board is asking for an all-day kindergarten waiver for the 2010-11 school year because of a lack of space, Superintendent Mike Mayell said.
Not only would the district have to expand four of its elementary school buildings, Mayell said Brunswick also would have to add staff. He estimated the construction to cost $16 million and the staff additions to cost $600,000 per year.
Mayell stressed the possible expansion’s cost would not cost taxpayers additional money.
“We’re not going to seek any levies,” he said. “Monies from the county’s sales tax will be the funds used for this project.”
He said the district has prepared for the additional salaries by putting them in the five-year budget plan.
“The board is committed to go ahead with all-day kindergarten. We realize it’s good for kids,” Mayell said. “We’re bursting at the seams in many of our elementary buildings. We’ve needed to expand them for some time. I think this is just moving us along faster.”
The school board has applied for the all-day kindergarten waiver for this year based on financial hardship.
Superintendent Dennis Honkala said implementing all-day kindergarten would require hiring two or three teachers “plus all the resources it would cost to provide” the all-day classes. He said each new teacher salary and benefits cost between $50,000 and $55,000 annually.
The district is currently designated by the Ohio Department of Education as in fiscal caution, which means it is in danger of having between a 2 percent and 5 percent budget deficit. It also means the state examines the district’s finances monthly.
Honkala said the school board will discuss a levy for the May ballot at its Feb. 9 meeting. He said he and the board will reassess the all-day kindergarten late this year based on where the district’s finances are and if there is another waiver available.
“There’s just so many variables from that financial piece,” he said.
The Cloverleaf school board will apply for a waiver to have an additional year to implement its all-day kindergarten, due to budget, space constraints, Superintendent Daryl Kubilus said.
The district is under fiscal caution and is required to submit a financial recovery plan to the state, which monitors its finances monthly. The district was saved from being categorized as in fiscal emergency when voters passed a 5.7-mill emergency renewal levy in November 2008.
Kubilus said the estimated seven additional teachers needed for the program is “quite an investment.”
“To say that the state is completely funding this would be a misnomer,” he said.
With the application for a waiver, the district also had to say how it planned to implement all-day kindergarten the following year.
Kubilus hopes the district will be financially ready for all-day kindergarten once its new elementary school opens at 8337 Friendsville Road, Westfield Township, in September 2011.
Currently, the district offers all-day kindergarten to students who meet special testing criteria, Kubilus said.
The Highland school board is in the process of preparing the all-day kindergarten waiver. However, the board will not officially vote on it until its Feb. 16 meeting.
Superintendent Catherine Aukerman said the waiver will include a plan to eventually offer all-day kindergarten.
“It will be a phase-in plan for us given our financial situation,” she said.
The school board may put a levy on the ballot in May. Voters rejected a 7.9-mill continuous issue in November. Before $1.2 million in budget cuts were announced late last year, the district predicted a $15 million deficit by the end of the 2013 school year without new money.
Aukerman said to offer all-day kindergarten, the district likely would need to hire about six additional teachers and six aides and would need to modify the districts’ facilities.
The Medina school board is applying for an all-day kindergarten waiver for the 2010-11 school year, board member Susan Vlcek said. She said the board requested the waiver for “monetary and space” reasons.
“We do not have space in all of the (school) buildings to have all-day kindergarten,” Vlcek said, “but the biggest piece is the monetary aspect because it would cost an estimated $1 million to have all-day kindergarten” due to hiring additional staff.
Vlcek added because Medina is facing a $9.5 million budget shortfall next year and must make cuts, the mandate’s timing made the transition impossible for 2010.
“It’s a great idea educationally, but on the fiscal side it really presents some challenges,” Vlcek said.
The Wadsworth City School District plans to have all-day kindergarten by the start of the next school year, Superintendent Dale Fortner said.
“We feel all-day kindergarten is an important initiative,” Fortner said. “We wish there was more funding by the state, but we feel that all-day kindergarten is important to the educational process.”
While the district is trying to make the best use of its staff, Fortner said six more teachers may be needed for the all-day kindergarten program.
The implementation of all-day kindergarten was included in the district’s plan to cut $1.3 million from its 2009-10 budget, Fortner said.
“When you’ve got mandates on one end and limited funds on the other, you have to watch what you spend, and this is a perfect example,” Fortner said. “We know it will be challenging, but we’re excited because it will benefit our students in the long run.”