Pre-K program to face new scrutiny

WARRENSBURG-A decline in enrollment and reduced state aid for the pre-kindergarten program at Warrensburg Central School District has prompted the WCS school board to consider consolidating the program, if it's not possible to boost the enrollment.

The Pre-K program started out in fall 2009 with 23 enrolled, and 100 percent funding by the state of about $76,000. In 2009-10, 30 students were enrolled, with a slightly reduced budget. But this year, 19 are enrolled.

For 2011-12, school administrators have predicted a shortfall of about $11,000 under the latest state aid figures. The state has allotted $61,955 for the program, Superintendent of School Tim Lawson said Monday, April 11.

With this funding gap, School Board member Richlene Morey suggested that school administrators consider consolidating the program, now conducted to morning and afternoon sessions, if not eliminating it altogether.

She reminded the board members that they had agreed three years ago to establish and operate the program only if it were fully supported by state aid.

After Morey suggested the Pre-K program be eliminated, School Board Vice President Dean Moore responded that the relatively small amount spent on such early childhood education avoided much costlier expenses for remedial instruction and special education services later on in students' lives.

In the face of a declining enrollment, Lawson said he'd look into the idea, suggested by board members, of taking in additional students from neighboring school districts to keep a full Pre-K program operating.

In other actions taken at the April 11 board meeting, the board unanimously granted tenure to High School Principal Doug Duell, Assistant Principal Steve Nolan, and elementary teachers Melinda Burkhardt and Amber Seeley.

The board also gave a probationary appointment extension for physical education teacher Robert Thomas, giving him time to pursue a master's degree. Also, childcare leave was granted for staffer Tressa Cintora, and Duell was granted permission to run Hackensack Basketball Camp at the school as customary in years past.

Awarded as April students of the month of the Warrensburg Central School district were eighth grader Allison Lanfear and fourth grader Brandon Martin Schill. Various teachers cited these two students' exemplary character and attitude, as well as their achievement and service to the school community.

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