USD 382 approves all-day preschool plans for young Greenbacks in Pratt

Ruby Howell
Pratt Tribune
USD 382 Curriculum Director David Schmidt led the discussion about establishing all-day preschool for Pratt students starting in fall 2021.

USD 382 Pratt Board of Education members unanimously approved a full-day preschool option for the 2021-22 school year. The program, set to run Monday through Friday, makes use of grant funding that will make it more accessible for parents in the community.

Curriculum Director David Schmidt presented the plan’s details and fee schedules to the board. He said that parents of students who qualify under the Kansas Preschool Pilot (KPP) grant or as “at-risk” (as determined by the Kansas Department of Education) will have no fees for the ½ day academic session. Parents may add lunch, the afternoon session, and a “Beyond-the-Bell” option (it will run from 3:30 – 5:15) if they choose, according to a fee schedule.

Superintendent Tony Helfrich said that online registration for preschool opens on March 26, this Friday.

“Our goal is to get more 4-year-olds in preschool by making it more accessible for

parents,” Helfrich said. “Our objective is for the combination of grant funding, state funding, and fees to make it a revenue-neutral program.”

The preschool discussion followed a special presentation by Pratt's JAG (Jobs for America’s Graduates) members, who opened the meeting with a presentation about the benefits of their program.

Olivia Muntz, USD 382’s student JAG president made a video presentation for the board, emphasizing how important the program has been in helping her get through the early stages of the pandemic, which closed school buildings in the 4th quarter of the 2019-20 school year.

During New Business, the board moved to renew the JAG partnership agreement for the

2021-22 school year (7-0). The district pays an $11,000 annual cost and the state program covers the remaining costs for providing the instructor and training.

In the Superintendent’s report, Helfrich reviewed the pandemic gating criteria, showing

how the district had moved to Green Plus in the week before spring break and what the numbers would need to be at for the district to move to its lowest level—Green. Schmidt serves as a liaison between the district and our local health department. He underscored the appreciation the district has for the hard work, common sense, and professionalism of Darcie Van Dervyer and the Pratt County Health Department.

Helfrich also relayed that he was beginning research on the precise placement of a flood

zone that runs through the parking lot that divides Pratt High School and the ACE to make certain our flood insurance coverage is appropriate. This research will require contracting with a civil engineering firm to survey the area and flood zone maps.

Besides the renewal of the JAG program and approving the full-day preschool option, the board had several other items for approval or discussion during New Business. The Multi-Jurisdictional Hazard Mitigation Plan was discussed and presented for a first read. A board policy regarding KORA (Kansas Open Records Access) was presented for a first read. The 2021-22 school year calendar was approved (7-0). The first day of school is August 18 and the last day is May 26. New teachers report on August 10.

Molly Swank presented technology refresh options. It was approved (7-0) to refresh one class of Chromebooks at 5th grade, one class of laptops at 9 th grade, and laptops for elementary and preschool teachers. This keeps the district current with its scheduled rotation. The board approved (7-0) the bid from Reddi Overhead Door for the replacement of the PHS cafeteria side-folding door.

Finally, in the ongoing discussion regarding ESSER (Elementary and Secondary School

Emergency Relief) federal funding, the board approved (7-0) an intensive summer school program and the addition of an MTSS (Multi-Tiered System of Support) coordinator for the middle school. The K-8 summer academy will run from June 14 – 25 and provide a high teacher-student ratio of approximately 10:1 with the goal to strengthen student skills and gaps in the areas of reading and math. Lunch and transportation will be provided. ESSER funding is to be spent by September of 2023, and the Board has determined that a summer academy for the summers of 2021, 2022, and 2023 will be a top priority. ESSER dollars will also fund the LMS MTSS position through the 2022-23 school year and provide the resources to target reading and

math remediation.

Helfrich said that the National Association of Ag Educators donated $1,300 for training

for PHS’s Ag Instructor, Rachel Easdon.

“The growth and strength of our new Ag program has exceeded our expectations,” Helfrich said.

Donna-Hoener-Queal moved for adjournment and Mark Fincham