Winfield-Mt. Union looks into renovating preschool program

By Gretchen Teske, Mt. Pleasant News


WINFIELD ? Currently there are more children than openings in Winfield-Mt. Union?s preschool, a problem Elementary School Principal Gabe Wylder says can be solved one of two ways.

There are 23 four-year-old families who would like to register, but the school can only take 20 of those children. During the school board meeting held in the library on Wednesday, April 11, Wylder proposed rearranging the schedule to have students attend three days a week instead of four.

The second option is to have two sessions four days a week for four-year-olds, in order to service more children. The proposed plan would give teachers Friday off to plan or participate in school functions. The first session would run from 8-11 a.m., and the second from 12:13-3:15 p.m. This would come out to 12 hours of school a week for children and Wylder proposed the idea of adding bussing to the morning session to help with transportation of kids.

Board member Ashlei Venghaus proposed a schedule of Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, because students are released early on Wednesday. She said this would give teachers who are also parents, the option to participate in school activities and would be easier on other parents who would only be required to make one pickup from the school.

Preschool parents spoke up in opposition to the half day idea because they felt it would not prepare students for kindergarten. ?Even at lunch time it may not be a learning situation, but they are learning,? said Dana Fink, a parent at the meeting.

By adopting the first option, the preschool would run with 20 total students, and four-year-olds would get first preference. By adopting option two, current registries would be accepted first, and the max capacity would rise to 40 students. This would allow the class size to be capped at 15 and bring in additional revenue because of the influx of students.

No conclusion was reached at this time but a separate meeting for parents and staff will be held on a later date.

Superintendent Jeff Maeder reported Southwest Community College (SCC) has proposed a rate increase for dual credit courses taken by high school students. Currently several online courses are offered to students as well as four in-person classes offered at WM-U. Two are taught by WM-U staff and the other two by SCC staff. Last fall, WM-U students took 78 credits online and this spring an additional 69. The increase of tuition could deter students from enrollment, but Maeder reported he is working with area superintendents to negotiate with SCC.

Student safety has been on the minds of the board as they look into equiping teachers with evacuation plans. ?Today we took another step in our security crisis planning by having teachers visit evacuation plan facilities in town,? Maeder reported. ?It?s something we hope to never have to use.? The school will be practicing the drill in the near future in order to prepare students in the event of a crisis.

In construction news, two bids were introduced for the improvement of first floor bathrooms in the elementary school. They are the last to be renovated and the projected start date is the summer of 2018. The first bid came from LJ Roth at $17,202.86, and the second from Taft at $17,261.53. Taft, who has done improvements for the school, won the bid.

The family of Rick Rodgers would like to donate a gate to the field in his memory. Rodgers was a 1976 graduate of W-MU and long time city employee. The gateway would allow for one entrance into the field but would require expanding the existing fence. ?We have this gift,? Maeder said. ?(But) it?s going to look kind of silly just having a gate there.? No decision was reached at this time.

Inside the school, the breakfast program is also looking at on overhaul. The state is encouraging schools to expand their breakfast program, but the attendance for breakfast at W-MU has gone down. ?Any amount of hunger for a child is a huge distraction,? said head cook Tracie Hartman. In response, the school offered a free breakfast for the entire school on Wednesday. Typically around 80 children eat but on Wednesday the numbers rose to over 170. ?We want to do this every day for kids,? she said.

A universal breakfast program would allow for free breakfast for all students and be paid for by federal funding. The motion was approved.

A new walk-in freezer was also approved for the kitchen as the existing one is in need of being replaced. The bid came in at $15,789.28.

The next meeting will be held on May 9, 2018 at 6 p.m.