This was the first year Mill Valley Elementary Principal Amey McGlenn did not have any tear-filled separation issues between students and parents during the first week of regular kindergarten classes.
The newly created alternative kindergarten program, however, was a different story – and that’s partially by design.
The new program is designed for incoming students who are eligible for kindergarten by age, but just barely. The program allows students with birthdays between May 1 and Sept. 30 to participate in a half-day kindergarten classroom.
“I absolutely love this program,” teacher Sherri Bauserman told members of the Marysville Board of Education at Thursday night’s meeting. “It’s definitely what these kids need.”
The program has 34 total students this year, 17 each in a.m. and p.m. sessions daily. The class is held at Mill Valley Elementary and was created for students who need instruction beyond the preschool setting, but aren’t quite ready for an all-day kindergarten atmosphere.
McGlenn said all the students take an assessment to ensure they are ready for a classroom setting, but ultimately the parents get to decide if their students are better served by alternative kindergarten. McGlenn said parents are the best judges of their student’s emotional readiness for kindergarten.
That was reflected the first week of school. While the traditional kindergarten classes started up without incident, there were some separation issues among the alternative kindergarten families, according to McGlenn.
The principal said social and emotional issues play a huge role in the decision between regular and alternative kindergarten. The few months difference in age seems small, but plays a big role in kindergarten readiness, she said.
There can also be an intimidation factor, as the students can be visibly smaller than their peers in traditional kindergarten. Bauserman said she has four students in alternative kindergarten who have not yet turned five years old.
While the alternative kindergarten students do pass assessments, some still require focused educational instruction. McGlenn said letter and numbers can still be a challenge for students who are so young. She said students have library and technology time twice per week to get them prepared for the tools of a traditional classroom. Students in the alternative kindergarten program will be enrolled in the traditional kindergarten program the following year.
“It’s a great thing for the district,” Bauserman said.
Organizers pledged to cap the program at 80 students this year, with no more than 20 students in a class. While the program did not reach capacity this year, McGlenn said she believes the program will grow as it ages.
“We have big plans,” she said.
In other business, the board:
-Learned that two Marysville students have been named semifinalists for the 2020 National Merit Scholarship Program. Paige Yu from Marysville High School and Adian Dobyn from Marysville Early College High School scored in the top 1% of the 1.5 million students taking the PSAT. They will compete for more than $31 million in scholarships in the spring.
-Heard from three residents in opposition to a proposed policy change that would have allowed private entities renting the football stadium to sell alcohol at summer events. The policy was brought forward earlier this year, but tabled after meeting opposition. Anne Daniel, Judy Eastman and Paula Litton all voiced opposition to a plan to sell alcohol on school property. Board members noted that the issue had been tabled and would require two readings if reintroduced.
-Learned that the metal junction box cover for the stadium project has been delivered. The original cover was damaged delaying most of the electrical work at the stadium. No decision was made on the possibility of hosting next Friday’s game with Big Walnut.
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