Board talks ELC numbers

Jacob Lane · Wednesday, June 21, 2017
The school board discussed student numbers for the Early Learning Center and fees for the upcoming school year during its meeting Monday, June 5.

To begin, it looks like WLCSD will simply have to ‘wait and see’ when it comes to student registration numbers for the Early Learning Center (ELC).

The school board is trying to figure out the needed number of teachers for the 2017/18 school year while the ELC is working out classroom sizes.

“We are between a rock and a hard place with staffing next year. Because, if you start by looking at kindergarten we are full to the gills,” said ELC Director Missy Johnson.

“If you look at the preschool numbers we really don’t have a lot of room there either,” she added. “Because we’re reserving some spots for our special-ed kids.”

Every year WLCSD has to play a bit of a wait-and-see game for final registration numbers before it can assign final teaching positions for the upcoming year.

However, in the previous couple of years space has become even more limited in the ELC building, which encompasses the district’s preschool, prekindergarten and kindergarten programs.

So far there are 83 student anticipated for preschool, 28 for prekindergarten and 109 for kindergarten. Students with special needs are weighted differently in the numbers.

That means there will be five sections of preschool, two sections of prekindergarten and five sections of kindergarten, a total of 12 classrooms.

Though ELC Director Missy Johnson has a good grip on incoming and returning student numbers, there’s no way to know for sure until final registration in August.

“Basically, if you look at the ELC, our teacher to student ratio is one teacher to 16 students,” said Johnson. In kindergarten that ratio is closer to one teacher to 22 students.

A concern for the board was the number of five-year-olds being held back in pre-kindergarten. The number was reported to be 40 last month, but has since gone down to 28.

“28 is better than 40, I was really concerned with that number,” said Board President Chris Martin, “I’m still concerned with the 28 students… I think as a district we need to be paying attention to that.”

When asked why more five-year-olds are not going into kindergarten, but rather being held back and put into pre-kindergarten, Johnson has a few ideas.

She stated that right now a lot of the students at the age are having social and emotional issues. However, she also brought up recent changes in the dynamics of Iowa education.

Prior to last year it was common for students to spend two years in pre-school, that’s just the way it was. They began moving up the K-12 tract when deemed ready.

But with state assessments and the school’s drive to meet more rigorous state standards and requirements more students are being held back from starting the system.

“We’re just going to have to keep on top of it and keep looking at it so we can make more decisions closer to registration,” said President Martin.

“I don’t think we can make any decisions right now without knowing what the actual numbers are, I know that puts the ELC in a tough spot but that’s where we’re at,” she concluded.

So, WLCSD will have to wait until final registration before it has an official teacher number for 2017/18. Overall, it will need to keep an eye on the growing number of students in the ELC.

Finally, the school board approved registration, meal and other recommended fees and charges for the 2017/18 school year.

Preschool tuition is going up from $240 to $255 a month, while the one-time fee for Preschool and Prekindergarten registration (excluding three-year-olds) will be $160.

Registration for Kindergarten will be $47, grades 1-5 will be $55, grades 6-8 will be $65 and grades 9-12 will be $75.

Meanwhile prices for PK-5 and 6-12 grade meals, including lunch and breakfast, are going up approximately $0.15.

That means lunch at the PK-5 level is $2.70 while breakfast is $1.90. Lunch at the 6-12 level is $2.90 while breakfast is $2.05.

Instruments for band rental will be $62. Activity tickets are $35 for student and $40 for adults while and annual pass is $100 for adults.
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