Board to look at details of all-day kindergarten

Panel appointed to review construction, renovation

Carroll County

July 16, 2004|By Gina Davis | Gina Davis,SUN STAFF

Carroll County school officials will spend the next several weeks poring over details such as classroom square footage, chalkboard locations, teacher workspace and storage capacity as they prepare to meet a state requirement that they offer full-day kindergarten by 2007.

The school board appointed a committee at its meeting Wednesday to help review construction and renovation needs for kindergarten classrooms.

"We have to look at the instructional and developmental needs of the children," said Harry T. Fogle, assistant superintendent of school management. "As we build classrooms for full-day kindergarten, there are certain things that need to be addressed because there are different things that kindergartners need."

Those needs include having a sink and a restroom in the classroom, Fogle said.

Construction and renovation costs are estimated at $11 million or more, but that could rise after a recent feasibility study, said Ray Prokop, director of facilities.

The school system has about 40 half-day kindergarten classrooms and might have to double that capacity for full-day accommodations.

"We have about 1,600 kindergarten students now," Fogle said. A typical kindergarten class has 15 pupils, up to a maximum of 20, he said.

Four of the county's 21 elementary schools - Taneytown, William Winchester, Robert Moton and Cranberry Station - will each house one full-day kindergarten classroom in the fall. The plan is to add four more schools next year and phase in the remaining 13 schools in 2006 and 2007, Fogle said.

Some schools will require additions to make room for full-day kindergartners. Others will need only renovations.

Reviewing standards

"The planning committee doesn't have to start from scratch because we have constructed elementary schools before. ... so we'll be reviewing those standards to focus on the needs of the full-day kindergarten classroom," said Al Eilbacher, supervisor of construction for county schools.

The committee, which plans to present its conclusions to the school board by the end of next month, is working under tight time constraints. To qualify for state construction funding, county school officials must present a schematic design to the state by Sept. 1, Eilbacher said.

"Now that we have the dollars to do the planning, we can hire an architect to design the additions. Before he can design, he needs our educational specifications," Eilbacher said.

In addition to Fogle, Prokop and Eilbacher, the committee members are: Barbara Bice, a state education official; C. Scott Stone, school board president; Judy Walker, principal at Cranberry Station Elementary; Ann Blonkowski, principal at the new Parr's Ridge Elementary; Mark Vigliotti, principal at William Winchester Elementary; Curtis Schnorr, director of elementary schools; Anna Marie Varakin, supervisor of elementary education; and Miguel Ugarte, construction assistant.

Deadline change sought

While planning for full-day kindergarten, school officials hope to persuade legislators in the next General Assembly session to eliminate or delay the 2007 deadline for enrolling all kindergartners in full-day programs.

They argue that most of the school system's kindergartners succeed in half-day programs and that pre-kindergarten testing would help ensure that youngsters who need extra instruction to get them ready for first grade would be enrolled in full-day classes.

"I'm frustrated with the fact that the state is pushing us to spend our few local dollars on an initiative that we have thoroughly researched and have found another way to meet the need," school board member Susan G. Holt said yesterday. "We've proven ourselves. We came up with a very good alternative, and we feel it's something that's going to meet the needs of our students."

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