Concerns aired at second meeting on Riverton's Early Childhood Education Program

Parents attending the second of four meetings explaining plans for an Early Childhood Education Program for pre-school and kindergarten aged children in School District 25 raised numerous concerns Tuesday night. Those concerns included worries over splitting up siblings in different schools, concerns over which children could attend the center, asking that a center be placed in each school, rather than in one location and a desire to keep the building's K-3 without a separate kindergarten. Superintendent Terry Snyder and Assistant Superintendent JoAnne Flanagan were on hand to address the issues. Snyder assured the gathering that the district does its best not to split up siblings when placing them in schools. He and Flanagan said that since the program will largely be funded with Title I funds and grants, many of the children who would attend are those eligible for free and reduced lunches, "but the center is available to any child." Snyder said the district does not have the resources to place an early childhood program in every school, and he noted that Aspen Park has the best design for the new center. Snyder said the Early Childhood Center "is a really good alternative that we don't have now." He told the 40 plus parents at Aspen Park School that what the district has been doing isn't working and that change is needed to meet the goal of reducing drop-outs and increasing the graduation rate. Snyder noted that over half of all the children entering Kindergarten in Riverton are not ready for school. "That presents a huge challenge to our teachers. We need to do a better job in early childhood education," he said. He was quick to add that the current private child care centers and Head Start do a great job, but he noted that not all kids have an opportunity to attend one of those programs. He said the district plans to work with those existing programs and not against them. "Dropouts stay in the community and typically end up in the criminal justice system or on welfare. We want our kids to have a better opportunity at life," he said. "It's been proven that children who cannot read at grade level leaving the third grade don't do well in the higher grades. We need to start earlier," he said. He said the new early childhood center and a Kindergarten Boost program are designed to have kids ready for first grade. The next two parent/community meetings are Jan. 21st at Jackson School, and Jan. 28th, a community meeting, at the Central Office. The meetings will each start at 5:30 p.m. The meetings are open to the community. *Feature Photo: District 25 Superintendent Terry Snyder addressed parents Tuesday night at Aspen Park School on plans for an Early Childhood Center. (Pitchengine Communities) * [image: Inline image 1] *Snyder addressed a parent during a question and answer period Tuesday