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Cloquet School Board discusses adding 'first grade prep' option for 6-year-olds

Cloquet school board members could soon be looking at a plan to revamp the way school kids start off their education in the district. During the working session before Monday night's meeting, Superintendent Ken Scarbrough shared with board member...

Cloquet school board members could soon be looking at a plan to revamp the way school kids start off their education in the district.

During the working session before Monday night's meeting, Superintendent Ken Scarbrough shared with board members his plan to introduce what he calls "first grade prep." With this plan, parents would have the option of sending their children to first grade prep, full or half day kindergarten.

If implemented, the new structuring system would allow children who are 6 years old upon graduation from Early Childhood classes to go into a first-grade-prep class, which would give them the basic kindergarten fundamentals as well as a head start on skills they need to know as they get ready to go into first grade.

Not only would kids be getting prepared for the step up to first grade, but the district could get federal funding to support the program as long as the students in the first grade prep program were at least 6 years old.

As it is now, full-day kindergarten is funded in part by the district, while parents supply the other half of funding. If a parent were to send their child to first grade prep instead of kindergarten, it would be at no cost to them.

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Scarbrough said many of the elementary administrators and teachers seemed on board with the idea.

"The principals thought it was a good idea because we're close to doubling the instruction time," said Scarbrough. "The kindergarten teachers were generally very positive in regard to this proposal."

Board members were open to discussing the changes Scarbrough spoke of. He is expecting to have a more formal proposal put together for board members to review by the next regular meeting.

Also during the working session, board members continued their discussion on whether or not they wanted to hire another buildings and grounds director. Rob Carr, who last held the position, left the district earlier this month for a different job.

The post has remained unfilled as board members decide if they want to hire someone to fill the existing position, or if they want to rethink some of the job duties of the director and come up with different hiring guidelines and qualifications. Board members had even discussed divvying out the responsibilities of the director to the custodians in lieu of hiring a director.

Board Clerk Duane Buytaert was concerned that without someone to head up the facilities department, the district could lose out on money-saving opportunities when facing tough decisions regarding repairs.

"Without someone in that leadership role to do that, who's qualified to make those decisions?" asked Buytaert.

Others were worried who would do employee evaluations.

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"We expect our administrators to be evaluated, teachers to be evaluated. Who evaluates these people?" asked Sandy Crowley.

Board members of the buildings and grounds committee agreed to meet on the issue on a later date. They will also meet with head custodians to get their input on the matter.

Related Topics: CLOQUETEDUCATION
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