Wilmington to have full-day kindergarten

The board also approved the 2005-06 budget.
NEW WILMINGTON, Pa. -- Full-day kindergarten is coming to the Wilmington school district, a decision received with mixed emotion by parents of incoming kindergartners.
The Wilmington Area Board of School Directors approved the recommendation for the district to participate in the Pennsylvania Department of Education Accountability Block Grant initiative.
The $177,876 grant will be used to implement a full-day kindergarten program.
About 20 parents of incoming students were in attendance at the board's monthly board meeting Monday.
Seven parents spoke to the board before the vote, and two voiced their opposition to the full-day program.
Matt Horchler of Volant said although 59 percent of the parents of incoming students filled out the survey in favor of the full day, the survey did not ask why they favored the plan.
"I believe a majority of parents in favor of all day is due to working parents," Horchler said. "If academic excellence is what we are striving for, reduce class size." He also said the daylong program should end when the grant money ends.
He questioned elementary Principal George Leidigh after the meeting where he could send his daughter if he does not want the full day program.
Varying opinions
"I know I am in the minority, being opposed to the full day," said district resident Amber Marett of Volant. "I sincerely enjoy staying home with my children."
The mother of four added that the program is rushing kindergartners "to grow up way too fast."
"They need to be just kids," Marett said.
District resident Wendy Campbell of New Wilmington, who said she is a "stay-at-home mom," said she favors the full-day program, however.
"My decision is not for sitter reasons," she said. "I like the environment. The children will not feel pressured into cramming everything into two hours."
Madelyn Reigh of Pulaski is a teacher for Head Start. She said her son attended six hours of Head Start daily last year.
She said the full day gives students more time to share with each other, learn and discover together.
The board's decision to enter into the full day program was approved by a 7-to-0 vote. Board members David Martin and Marie Winter were absent.
Leidigh said he is looking forward to working with parents to make this new endeavor a smooth transition for all students.
Superintendent Dr. C. Joyce Nicksick said that with the new kindergarten program, the district would most likely need to hire an additional teacher.
Budget approval
In other business, the board approved the district's 2005-2006 school year budget.
The $15.9 million will keep real estate tax millage set at 12.3 mills or $1.23 per $100 of assessed valuation in Lawrence County, and 57.4 mills or $5.74 per $100 assessed valuation in Mercer County. The district overlaps the two counties.
Nicksick said millage for Lawrence County did not increase and Mercer County's millage was reduced by four-tenths of a mill. She said the budget was a product of hard work from the principals and business manager Nancy DeWoody.
After 32 years of service to the district, business manager DeWoody attended her final board meeting.
Sitting with her was newly hired business manager Jennifer Conrad of Portersville.
She was hired during the June 2 meeting at a salary of $37,500.
Nicksick said Conrad was one of three finalists for the post.
Marie Gentile will fill the newly created position of district office confidential secretary/accounts payable secretary. Her salary will be $21,000.
Nicksick said there has been a need for this position for several years. She said a position was vacated several years ago and never filled.
The board also hired these teachers: Katie Cestone of Youngstown, art; Ashley Rexrode of Farmington, Pa., music; Susan Garrett of New Wilmington, school nurse; Michael Cooper of Volant, social studies; Bradi Rhoades of Emlenton, Pa., math; and Michael Zeigler of New Castle, math.

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