LONDONDERRY – Moose Hill School Kindergarten Coordinator Bonnie Breithaupt, North School Principal Mary Coltin, South School Principal Linda Boyd and Matthew Thornton Principal Sharon Putney addressed the School Board budget workshop as “one school in four locations.”
Breithaupt gave the presentation at the Tuesday, Jan. 7 meeting, saying she works closely with the other schools so that the transition from kindergarten to elementary school will be a smooth one.
The proposed budget includes an increase of $724, due to per-pupil cost in supplies and postage, caused by a projected enrollment of 243 kindergarten students and 100 LEEP (Londonderry Early Education Program) 3- and 4-year-olds.
“We will maintain a total of 14 Regular Ed classes in kindergarten with seven (morning) sessions and seven (afternoon) sessions, and projecting a slight increase in the (afternoon) enrollment over the (morning) enrollment, with class sizes in the morning of 16.28 and in the afternoon at 18.43.,” she said. “This year we are highlighting iPad training with our kindergarten students with the help of Technology Integrationist Joe Oswald.
“Once the app has been introduced, the students then use the app in the classroom,” she explained. “We are hoping to introduce iBooks to the students prior to the end of the school year.”
She said the program has been very successful, as kids “innately know how to use an iPad.”
“During the summer our kindergarten teachers developed a standards-based report card, which we are piloting this year,” she added. “We asked parents to give us feedback during parent conferences and we have received great feedback. We will then move forward and meet with first grade representatives from the three elementary schools to revise the report card and make sure that we transition nicely into what they will be developing.”
The challenge for Moose Hill is trying to fit everything into a two and a half hour day.
“Our teachers do an excellent job of making the most of instructional time,” she said. “Last year we started a new program called ‘Moose Tracks to Good Manners,’ and that program has been very successful in helping our students develop the executive functioning and self-monitoring skills they need to be good students.”
Breithaupt noted the budget for most of LEEP comes from the Student Services portion of the district budget.
“Currently LEEP uses four of the classrooms at Moose Hill and a fifth classroom for the Friends program, which is for 3- to 6-year-olds,” she said. “I appreciate the support of the school board with providing us with an ideal setting for our childhood programs, and with your support we give our youngest learners the foundational skills to be college and career ready upon graduation from high school.”
Speaking for the three other elementary schools, which each house grades 1-5, Boyd said, “our four schools have worked in tandem to prepare our budgets and represent one elementary school in four locations. This collaboration demonstrates our commitment to consistency for all of our elementary students.”
Concerning the budget, Boyd said, “For the past several years we have maintained the per-pupil costs in supplies without increases. This year the increasing cost of supplies resulted in a request for an increase of 50 cents per student in art and a $5 increase per student in general supplies.”
At a 1,437 total enrollment at the three elementary schools for next year, that would be a total increase of $7,903.50, or $718.50 for art supplies and $7,185 for general supplies.
She said that based upon current enrollment, there are no reductions in the number of classrooms for next year. The district will have 72 regular education classrooms: 23 at North, 22 at South and 27 at Matthew Thornton.
“Maintaining lower class size will have a positive influence on learning, and we will continue to dedicate space to provide music rooms, art rooms and small group teaching spaces, spaces for professional learning community meetings as well as additional space for district-wide programs housed in some of our elementary schools,” Boyd said.
Board member John Robinson noted media reports that teachers are providing supplies for their students and asked if Boyd saw that going on.
“Absolutely,” she said.
Robinson asked if he had heard correctly that the federal tax break for teachers who do that, which allows them to deduct some of that money off their taxes, was going away.
“I can’t answer that question,” Boyd said.
Robinson said that he wanted to point out the contributions that teachers are making “above and beyond what the taxpayers are asked to pay for” for their students.
“This is beyond the things we ask parents to donate, like cleaning supplies and Kleenex,” Robinson said.
Breithaupt said the PTA (Parent Teacher Association) also makes donations to classroom needs.