|Rob Heilman, right, and other concerned parents, at a Board of Education meeting last month.|
But thanks to a good number of out-of-district requests for the program and parents requests of in-district students, the district produced the finances to add a fifth all-day Kindergarten back at Johnson Elementary. There will be two all-day classes at both Johnson and Moyer Elementary Schools and one at Woodfill Elementary.
Like FTIS Assistant Superintendent for Student Services Jon Stratton said in a letter to parents (attached below), the demand for a fifth all-day Kindergarten class had not been there in previous years. The district placed one all-day Kindergarten option at each school and a fourth one that rotated among the schools. It had been at Johnson the past couple of years.
FTIS planned to move the fourth all-day class to Moyer because the number of sign-ups there was 40 students. The sign-ups with in-district students were 37 at Johnson and 11 at Woodfill. A lottery determined which 22 Johnson students got in that class.
The minimum number of students in a class is 18 and the maximum is 24. The district keeps two slots open for move-ins and for students who need to retake Kindergarten. FTIS Superintendent Dr. Gene Kirchner said the slots would be filled before the school year starts at the last board meeting on March 9.
But parents of the Johnson students that did not get into the original all-day class came to the board with concerns about the process led by Rob Heilman. Heilman also has an older daughter in elementary school. Heilman asked Stratton, Kirchner and the present board members about potential options at the board meeting.
"I live just around the corner from Woodfill, so there is a major convenience factor," said Tommy Meyn, whose daughter will go to the all-day class there next fall. "I also agree with the sentiment that was expressed at the last meeting that these kids will be in school together for the next several years, so it would be nice to start them together."
Some have children in elementary, middle and high school and have to go through traffic at different points during the day to drop off their children at the respective schools. Some expressed concerns about losing a half-hour at their jobs because of that.
Kentucky funds all-day Kindergarten in various districts in the state. But that is not the case with FTIS. Parents have to pay $2700 for the year to send their children to the all-day class. Stratton wrote in the letter that the tuition-based option makes sure that families not using it are not financing it with their tax dollars.
"I am thrilled that the Fort Thomas Schools once again proved their commitment to our children's education and took a second look to ensure that more than a dozen children would have the opportunity to attend full-day Kindergarten," said Jessica Duke, whose son will attend Kindergarten at Johnson full-day next year. "That being said, I believe improvement is needed at the state level as to how this is funded and at a district level as to how attendees are selected."
Stratton also noted there will only be four all-day classes offered during the 2016-17 school year because of the scheduled renovations at Moyer Elementary. But if more sign up for the classes at one school than allowed in a classroom, the district may need to find a different way of figuring out who gets the classes. Board Member Brad Fennell said that process needs to be looked at and possibly changed because it has been around for a while.
A copy of the letter sent to parents of incoming kindergartners is below. Click on the image to view it larger.