Prairie may add 10th kindergarten sectionWORTHINGTON — Prairie Elementary may soon add a 10th section of kindergarten.
By: Laura Grevas, Worthington Daily Globe
WORTHINGTON — Prairie Elementary may soon add a 10th section of kindergarten.
The Instructional Committee for the District 518 Board of Education supported the measure, and will seek approval from the full board at its June 16 meeting.
Prairie Elementary Principal Paul Besel reported Monday that there are currently 214 students registered for kindergarten next year — just one short of the 215 students the board had called the point at which it would consider additional sections.
However, at least 77 of the new enrollees have been identified as English Language Learners.
That’s a complicating factor, Besel said, because they especially need smaller class sizes.
“The piece that we weren’t expecting is that the majority of students will be coming in as English Language Learners,” Besel said.
Under the proposed scenario, there would be four sections of “newcomers” or ELL students, with class sizes ranging from 19 to 20; and six regular education sections with class sizes of 22 to 23 students. Each class would have a full-time paraprofessional who would spend about six hours per day with the students.
The cost of adding one section of kindergarten is about $67,000 — $17,000 for a full-time paraprofessional and $50,000 including benefits for a new teacher.
The cost savings in helping students become English proficient at an early age is significant, Superintendent John Landgaard said.
“All but a couple have been advanced to an appropriate grade level within a year’s time,” he said.
The other options called for maintenance of the current nine sections. One would divide ELL students into three classes with class sizes of about 26, and the general education students into six sections of about 23.
The second scenario would divide ELL students into four classes with class sizes of about 19, but divide the remaining 137 students into five sections instead, resulting in class sizes of about 27 or 28. A full-time paraprofessional would be added for the ELL classroom.
“These numbers could go down, but they could go up, too. Even with a para, there’s no room for error,” said board member Bob Jirele, referring to the potential for large class sizes in maintaining nine sections.
“I’d rather be proactive and ready to go now,” agreed board member Lori Dudley.
If enrollment does decrease significantly, paraprofessional positions could be cut later.