Gasconade County R-2 Assistant Superintendent Dr. Staci Johnson on Monday night revealed that the new preschool expansion program, set to educate more than 106 students enrolled, will be universal …
Gasconade County R-2 Assistant Superintendent Dr. Staci Johnson on Monday night revealed that the new preschool expansion program, set to educate more than 106 students enrolled, will be universal and free thanks to reorganizing resources.
She hopes the addition of a $320,000 pre-K start-up grant will assist with equipment purchases, materials and minor remodeling.
“We opened enrollment for pre-K after the last board meeting for a tuition-free program,” Johnson told the board on March 20. “We could have a third classroom at Owensville Elementary School (OES), but rather than ask for that now — we are not full yet, but are filling fast — I’d like to bring it back in April if we are full.”
OES Principal Trisha Ridder confirmed her building has received two to three phone calls a week from parents who missed preschool enrollment.
“There will be transportation for all 4-year-olds,” Johnson said after the meeting. “We can’t transport 3-year-olds because we don’t have paras on the buses.”
Johnson said both OES and Gerald Elementary School (GES) will have options for a full or half-day class period.
“The 3-year-olds and 4-year-olds will be in different classrooms and students who want a half day will trade out.”
Trading students who are only attending for half a day in and out of the same classroom is the best way to meet the community’s needs according to Johnson.
She added a perk to the announcement as well.
“There is a pre-K start-up grant through the Office of Early Childhood Education for $320,000 based on capacity, materials, equipment for playground or classrooms and minor remodeling,” Johnson said. “But we don’t need it to move forward. If it does go through, it would take away from bond issue monies —it is that much more money to go toward another project.”
During the Feb. 21 board meeting, Board President Glenn Ely mentioned that the district was able to provide the expanded preschool program costs low by reorganizing teachers, due to decreased enrollment, to reallocate positions to the elementary schools. However, at that time, Johnson said the cost per family was unknown.
When Johnson first introduced the idea of preschool expansion in December 2022, she thought it may cost families between $500 and $700 monthly.
For any questions regarding preschool enrollment or to enroll a student, contact Johnson at the Administration Building or call the OES office and speak with Ridder.
In other business, the district also approved summer school dates and increased teacher pay during the event. Superintendent Dr. Jeri Kay Hardy asked the board to consider increasing the summer school teacher pay to reflect teachers’ hourly rates.
“Summer school teachers currently take a cut in pay,” Hardy said. “I would rather the teachers work and be happy than working for less than minimum wage.”
The board approved the request on a 7-0 vote. Summer school classes were approved by the board with a 7-0 vote to be held for full days May 31 to June 27.
No comments on this item Please log in to comment by clicking here