In a time of tight budgets and never-ending cuts, SVSD administration presented the Snoqualmie Valley School District School Board with a creative cost-cutting option, changing from everyday half-day kindergarten to an alternating full-day model. In the end, though, the school board decided the savings was not enough to outweigh the risk to its youngest students. The possible savings from the change would’ve amounted to $156,000 for SVSD’s operating budget – or about a 1/4 % per year.
New board member, Geoff Doy, said he received about 45 emails since the kindergarten model change was proposed at the January 26th school board meeting. Of those 45, he stated only 10 supported the model change. He noted many respondents stated they would look for alternate kindergarten options if SVSD adopted the new model, possibly lowering district enrollment next year. Such an enrollment loss decreases the district’s operating budget. In closing, Doy said he’d heard the passionate responses, saw the potential enrollment loss and didn’t “see the justification for the change.”
Scott Hodgins commented that he didn’t think the change was a good way to introduce new families to our school district, alluding to possible negative feelings toward the district for adopting an unpopular model change. Carolyn Simpson said she didn’t see the “cost savings worth the educational risk” so she couldn’t support the proposal.
The school board decided to vote to not accept the district’s proposed kindergarten model change, opting to keep the current model intact. Before the vote occurred both board President, Dan Popp, and SVSD Superintendent, Joel Aune, noted that this was a viable cost-cutting option and that by not adopting it the board would most likely need to make tough cuts in other areas.
Mr. Aune went on to mention that the district did its homework on the alternating full-day model. It knew what the public perception would be toward such a big kindergarten change, as other districts experienced the same reaction from parents. He also noted that research studies show the proposed change was a lateral move, stating educational studies showed the proposed model was equal to the current kindergarten model. Mr. Aune told the board not to be surprised to see this proposal come up again in a few years as a budget cutting option. Assistant Superintendent, Don McConkey also mentioned he expects other Washington State school districts to explore alternating full-day kindergarten models as the state legislature continues cutting education funding.
In the end, the board all voted to keep the current kindergarten model intact. Yes, kindergarten parents, they heard your voices.