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Monday, March 18, 2013

Nostalgia: 2008: Melissa Hammann speaks on Half Day Kindergarten:

(Ednote: This is a section from Melissa Hammann's book titled "School Issues that Count" ) Tuesday, January 15, 2008 Mailbag: Hammann Speaks on Half Day Kindergarten --- Melissa Hammann wrote: > It has been brought to my attention that, due to > budget constraints, the Evansville School District > plans to discontinue offering the half-day > kindergarten option. Furthermore, it is my > understanding that even Mr. Hoffenberg was kept out > of the discussions until Ms. Carvin had made the > decision and offered him a full-time position next > fall. Numerous reasons were cited, including the > SAGE grant restrictions, reduced/free lunch program, > bus transportation etc. Nobody seems to agree on > the amount to be saved by this action. The amount > seems to change depending on to whom you speak and > at what time of day you speak to them. One parent > even received 2 different quotes from the same > person. There are numerous arguments against this > move. Mine are four-fold: child based need, > budgetary, the duplicitous approach used by the > school district and the despicable treatment of an > outstanding teacher. > > My first objection to eliminating the half-day > kindergarten class is based on the need of the > child. Some five-year-old children are not ready > for a full day of school every day, but are eager to > learn in a more challenging environment that that > provided by pre-school. Of our three children, only > one would have done well in a full day class. > Fortunately, all three of our children have had the > priviledge of enrolling in Mr. Hoffenberg's > kindergarten class. Last fall we enrolled our > youngest child. Will is a rambunctious boy whose > educational needs have been met and exceeded by Mr. > Steve's firm but fun guidance. I know that more > than one family had to seek other options for their > children because the demand for the half-day class > exceeded the supply of openings. We feel especially > fortunate that Will was able to benefit from Mr. > Hoffenberg's vast experience. > > My second argument against dropping the half-day > program at this time is budgetary. A mere 4 years > after its inception, kindergarten "choice" is on the > budgetary chopping block. Let us review the last 6 > years or so of school board fiscal decisions, shall > we? Our oldest child had Mr. Steve in the pre-SAGE > days when kindergarten was only half-day for > everyone in Evansville. We were ecstatic with Mr. > Hoffenberg's teaching skills. He paved the way for > her very successful school career thus far. Our > second child had Mr. Hoffenberg for Kindergarten in > 2002. This was the first year that a choice between > full day and half-day kindergarten was offered. I'd > like to add that this was also the first year summer > school was cancelled due to budget overruns on the > new high school. I could NOT understand why the > school district effectively doubled their > kindergarten teacher salary and benefits costs at a > time of budget crisis. How can it be fiscally sound > to double your kindergarten staff salary and > benefits during tight financial times? Apparently > the SAGE grant and the free/reduced meal program > with their almighty government funding carrot was > the primary impetus for this move. Parents eager to > reduce their daycare costs fell right into lock step > with the school district on that decision. > > Next..... Nowhere in the entire discourse of expanding > the grade school into the old high school, did > anybody mention a second set of administrators being > hired and suddenly, VOILA, there they were. > > This litany of fiscally ambiguous decisions is to > illustrate to you how completely skeptical one > remains when you begin to quote audacious figures > for cost savings by expanding the half-day > kindergarten class-room to a full day class-room. > It is my understanding that the SAGE grant as it > currently exists is in jeopardy. It seems that > pinning budgetary hopes for monetary gain on an > amorphous SAGE grant is like hitting a moving target > at best and poor decision-making at worst. When > the SAGE grant monies are no longer flowing, what > will the school district be left with? An > unmanageable kindergarten program and > worse-than-ever blood between the school district > and the community. I would be interested in the > results of a simple budget exercise. Calculate the > costs of all half-day kindergarten and compare them > with the costs of all full day kindergarten. I'm > just curious. > > My third issue with this.... incident is the > sneaky, underhanded way ..... (it was) attempted to railroad it > through the budget without citizen knowledge or > input. > > Finally, and most importantly, I must speak out > against (the) .... treatment of Steve Hoffenberg > throughout this incident. It is despicable that you > would treat an award-winning, incredibly talented > and enthusiastic kindergarten teacher with such > disrespect. ...... A pessimist would say that > by treating him so callously, you force his hand to > retire so you can hire some hot-out-of-school > teacher on the cheap............. > > Sincerely, > > Melissa M. Hammann

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