The Brainerd School Board and administration made a major misstep when they chose to add a new program rather than offset reductions in existing programs. Regardless of the potential benefits of all day every day kindergarten, expansion of the program to all schools is a tragic blunder.
There were a number of reasons the referendum failed last fall (high cost) but a common thread among those voting no was that while portrayed as holding the line, the referendum actually expanded programs. All day every day kindergarten is clearly an expansion.
To use the money made available by the union to expand programs rather than save or minimize the impact on existing programs is unexplainable. The five kindergarten positions if allocated between K-4 would have kept student teacher ratios close to current levels. Alternately, allocating positions to maintain the middle school pod structure would provide enhanced support for children during a critical at risk age. Even using the positions at the high school level to keep a wider range of elective/vocational options would have had a broader impact. Expansion to never before provided service levels is unacceptable in light of the significant cuts to long standing core programs.
The difficult reductions which were made should be a wakeup call for us to find another local solution to funding. Unfortunately, by expanding kindergarten the school board has made it difficult (maybe impossible?) to engage the public in a meaningful discussion about local school funding.
I am forced to ask "Are smaller class sizes that important." The school board could have directly reduced class sizes yet they chose to expand programs. By their actions, they clearly don't believe in smaller class sizes.
I implore the board to reverse this decision and re-evaluate how to best use the funds to help the most kids.
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