Tri States Public Radio Staff
40+ So Far
Mon March 19, 2012
Keokuk Encourages Preschool Enrollment
The Keokuk School District could soon know if it should expand its preschool program.
The district currently serves 30 four-year-olds. Half of them meet in the morning while the other half attends preschool in the afternoon.
Superintendent Lora Wolff says sign-up for next year is already underway. She says more than 40 applications have already been returned to the district.
Wolff says the state-funded program could handle as many as 80 students if the Keokuk School Board agrees to add a second classroom. She believes there are enough students out there to meet that number.
Wolff says the district estimates 60-70 students who were eligible for preschool but not enrolled this year.
The Keokuk School Board could vote, next week, on whether to hire a new teacher and associate for the proposed second classroom. If approved, the preschool classes would be held at Torrence Elementary.
Wolff says the administration wants to show the need for the second classroom to the school board, which is why there is a push underway for parents or guardians to sign their preschoolers up.
Applications are available at Hawthorne Elementary.
The school board has changed the hours students will spend in school.
Starting in the fall, the school day will start at 8:00 A.M. instead of 8:15 A.M. and will conclude at 3:00 P.M. as opposed to 3:15 P.M. The workday for teachers will remain from 7:30 A.M. - 3:30 P.M.
Superintendent Lora Wolff says the change will give teachers more time to meet with students after school.
The Keokuk School Board has also voted to dismiss students at 1:45 P.M. on Wednesdays, again starting this fall. Wolff says this will allow for more professional development time for staff.
The school board has also agreed to offer a second round of early retirement incentives to teachers meeting certain age and service requirements.
Teachers have until April 1 to apply. Six employees took advantage of the incentive when it was offered late last year.
The school board has also pushed back the cut-off date for eligibility. Teachers will now have until August 20th to meet the age or service requirements.
The district says refinancing some older debt will save it more than $400,000. It has sold nearly $4-million in bonds to a bank out of Kansas City, MO at an interest rate of 1.155%.
Keokuk was paying about 3.1% interest on money borrowed for the middle school and for the kindergarten wing addition to Hawthorne Elementary. The district will pay off the refinanced bonds over seven years.
This will allow for a reduction in the debt service property tax levy. That is a factor in the district’s proposed 72-cent decline in its tax rate for next year.