By Kris Leonhardt
MARSHFIELD — Plans to introduce a 4K pilot program in Marshfield School District schools were voted down during the Feb. 8 meeting of the Marshfield School Board.
The pilot program would have moved four of the 13 existing programs in the community into district classrooms.
Board member Amber Kiggens-Leifheit made the motion to proceed with a pilot program that would create four sections of 4K that would operate on a half-day basis four days a week within the district schools.
“I believe that doing this as a pilot in the schools will give us a good idea of what do parents want,” said Kiggens-Leifheit. “Do they want this program or not? It’s parent choice. They don’t have to choose it.
“I really believe that we can do the best for our students by offering both, and I do believe that we can come back a year from now and see what has improved and what hasn’t and where we can go, but I think having that site in the schools will really give those teachers out there in the community a way to go in and observe good practices, and it’ll give us better information on how to support those (child care) centers.”
Board member Dale Yakaites expressed concerns regarding consistency between the existing community programs and the four that would be transferred into district schools.
“There is an issue with me of having a two-class system,” said Yakaites. “There would be some parents that would be having their kids involved in a 4K in buildings, in a school system with a lot more built-in support system — from counseling to nursing to whatever else that we have in our system right now.
“Not only that, but just the immediate support of someone in that building that could come down and handle issues, so I have a problem with that concept of consistency and how that would affect students across the whole district.”
Board President Marlene Stueland stated that there was not enough time allowed to evaluate the existing 4K programs and that it should be longer before the district steps in to manage them.
“If the recommendations that came to the curriculum committee by our administrators were said to our community providers, ‘This is what you have to do. This is what is required,’ there is a whole list of those,” said Stueland. “None of those are not achievable. I’ve looked at them myself, and I think they are all achievable.
“We need to give those community centers time to improve on every level that they need to improve on. If at that time period, another year, an evaluation needs to be conducted again to see if they improve, to see if there is consistency among all.”
Five school board members voted against the district 4K pilot program, Kiggens-Leifheit was the lone supporter, and board member Mark Konrardy was absent.