February 22, 1995 in Idaho

Kindergarten Plan Unpopular With Some Parents Need For Space Forcing District, Families To Consider Options

By The Spokesman-Review
 

With her eldest son headed to kindergarten next fall, Marla Abrams is researching her options.

She could send him to the Post Falls School District, where he’ll endure crowded conditions at Ponderosa Elementary or substandard surroundings at the old Frederick Post school.

Or she could enroll him in a private kindergarten program.

“I don’t want my son going to school in a storeroom,” Abrams said, in reference to Seltice Elementary - where one kindergarten class is doing exactly that.

Abrams and some other parents are hardly thrilled with the school district’s recent proposal to turn Frederick Post into a kindergarten center.

Frederick Post, which was built in 1951, houses the district offices, preschool center and the alternative high school.

The idea behind the proposed changes at Frederick Post is to free up space in the other schools. The district would move the administrative offices out of Frederick Post and shift all the kindergarten classes into the old school.

The proposal would cost about $100,000, if the district acquires portable offices to install across the street.

Though not exactly popular, the idea is gaining more fans than the proposed alternatives.

“One parent said to me, `You don’t want your kids here (in Ponderosa Elementary) in kindergarten. It’s too crowded,”’ Abrams said.

Next year the elementary schools may be even more crowded, school officials say. The district expects the student body to grow by 3 percent.

Many parents like the idea of a kindergarten center at Frederick Post better than a competing proposal to move all the sixth-graders to the old school.

“They are so vulnerable at 12 years old. They’re going through so many changes,” said parent Sharon Wagner. “I hate to even hear it brought up.”

She and other parents also are concerned about the sixth-graders mixing with the alternative high school students, who take up the other wing of the school.

If the district chooses to put kindergarten students in the old school, the district would carpet the building and put new playground equipment on the adjacent lawn, said assistant superintendent Jerry Keane.

But the fix would only be temporary, he said. Perhaps the next year, the district would try year-round schooling. Or the kindergarten center could operate an extra year if the district passes a school bond levy next fall.

Some parents worry that the “temporary fix” could become permanent.

That’s what happened in the West Valley School District six years ago during remodeling of the elementary schools.

“Once we got here and realized that we could create a warm, inviting, nurturing environment…we kept it and keep expanding it,” said Stacey Mueller, coordinator for West Valley’s early childhood center.

Another meeting is planned on the proposal at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at Prairie View Elementary.

The school board will discuss it at the March 13 meeting.


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