October 10, 2012 - Parents who want to send their children to kindergarten in the Mehlville School District will be able to seek early enrollment beginning this month.
Superintendent Eric Knost presented information regarding full-day kindergarten enrollment to the Board of Education at its Sept. 25 meeting. The district is creating an enrollment form with the options of selecting full-day kindergarten regardless of whether it is tuition free; full-day kindergarten only if it is tuition free; and half-day kindergarten "no matter what," according to Knost.
"We'll take those numbers, and it'll really help us determine is this something I can really recommend to the board and say it's revenue neutral and we can do it without facilities issues," Knost told the Call.
The current plan, according to Knost, is to find a way to have free, full-day kindergarten with the district's current facilities.
In past discussions, the superintendent has mentioned the possibility of using a trailer for upper grade levels to account for the additional students.
"I've only mentioned that because people asked that question," he said, "but I'm not recommending that at this time ... In many schools (adding a trailer) has been a solution. I think I said I would never put kindergarteners in a trailer, but at this point in time, I'm not recommending facility adjustments."
Mehlville can accommodate from 800 to 850 kindergarten students, according to information provided to the board, though it would only need 650 for tuition-free full-day kindergarten to be fully funded by the state as opposed to tuition. Adding free, full-day kindergarten would take roughly 14 additional teachers, according to Knost.
"At 650 (students), it would fully fund (free, full-day kindergarten), plus classroom needs and accessories and the added teaching staff as well," he said. "It would not fund facilities. If we can't do this with the facilities that we have, I will not be recommending it."
Knost said the tough part of planning for full-day kindergarten is not knowing what enrollment will be.
"We know what live birth data (is) from a couple of years ago. We feel that's still dependable even though we're sure with the transient populations it's changed," he said. "But, we had something like the potential of 930-something kids that will be kindergarten age next year."
The superintendent said he knows not all 930 children will come to the Mehlville School District, but until he knows "what we're dealing with," he said he cannot ask the board to vote on a plan if he cannot give them valid information.