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Decision on five-day 4YK program nears

ELLSWORTH - Ellsworth School Board will decide by month's end whether to change 4-year-old kindergarten from a four-day to a five-day schedule.

At Supt. Barry Cain's recommendation, board members will address the class schedule during a special meeting on budget adjustments, which is set for 6 p.m. March 29 in the high school library.

Prairie View Elementary School Principal Mary Zimmerman said approximately 150 surveys went out to families. At this point, respondents are split evenly between the two options.

Switching to a five-day program was proposed in the interest of consistency, Cain said, adding no additional funding would be realized until the 2011-12 school term. When the program was originally considered, organizers thought the non-student day (which has been Wednesday) would be needed for staff to collaborate among the then-four elementary sites. That's no longer a factor, Zimmerman said.

Three options have now been presented to the board: five days a week at two-and-a-half hours a day; four days a week at three hours a day; and the present four days a week at two-and-a-half hours a day.

Curriculum Director Leona Johnson said if the second option was chosen, two additional student days would need to be added over a school term to meet minimum requirements.

Teacher Erin Marcks said the midweek break has worked well. She said the idea was to avoid students becoming "crabby and tired" nearing the end of a full school week.