HJ/EDMay 22, 2006

All-day kindergarten gets attention in LP

By Linda Scherer
Staff Writer

It was obvious from the number of parents present at last Monday night’s meeting, the Lester Prairie School Board agenda included something that had caught their attention.

When the meeting allowed for open dialogue from the audience, there wasn’t a moment’s hesitation before the first parent stood up to voice concern about the all-day kindergarten program or what is being called kindergarten-plus.

Parents with children entering kindergarten in the fall were troubled about why prerequisites for proceeding with an all-day kindergarten program were changed, if the money would be coming from the general school fund, what the qualifications were for the new teacher being hired, and would all of the children get the current kindergarten teacher, Jan Smith, as their teacher next fall?

That was just the beginning. Other parents present were concerned about what will happen to the kindergarten program next year. They were anxious because they are satisfied with the current program and cannot understand why the school should change a good thing.

In the end, the school board gave approval to administration to proceed with the next step in the kindergarten-plus program.

That step would be having all parents who are interested in sending their children to kindergarten-plus sign a contract committing to the $200 a month tuition fee.

With signed contracts from just eight parents, there will be enough funds to cover the cost of hiring a half-time teacher at a cost of approximately $14,000-$19,000 per year, according to Superintendent Joe Miller.

Pam Lukens assured everyone that there will be no funds taken from the general fund or the school levy for the kindergarten-plus program.

Because it seemed to be very important to all parents at the meeting, Board Member Bob Carlson confirmed that Smith will be teaching both morning and afternoon kindergarten classes for the 2006-07 school year.

The kindergarten-plus program will have a regular morning kindergarten program with core subjects being taught by Smith.

The afternoon program will be part of a community education program that will probably include activities such as music, art, and phy ed but the final schedule will be set up once the teacher who is in charge of the program is hired.

Wrestling to pair with Glencoe-Silver Lake

At the beginning of the meeting, during open dialogue, assistant wrestling coach Thayne Johnson and parents with students interested in wrestling let the board know how important the wrestling program was to Lester Prairie School. They also supported pairing wrestling with Glencoe-Silver Lake.

They cited the successful wrestling history of Lester Prairie School. The parents also let the board know that they would probably be transferring schools in the fall if there was not a wrestling program at Lester Prairie.

Asst. Principal Ron Erpenbach presented the agreement he was able to reach with Glencoe-Silver Lake. Erpenbach admitted to some “groveling” when it came time to meet with Glencoe-Silver-Lake for the second time, but it seemed to be worth it because the school board did agree, without any discussion, that the Lester Prairie wrestling program would pair with Glencoe-Silver Lake.

The five Lester Prairie wrestlers will have the team name Glencoe-Silver Lake-Lester Prairie and wear Glencoe uniforms. Wrestling tournaments will take place at Glencoe. Lester Prairie will pay an annual fee of $2,500, plus provide transportation for the wrestlers.

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