The New Albany-Plain Local School District is considering a kindergarten intervention program this fall.

The New Albany-Plain Local School District is considering a kindergarten intervention program this fall.

The program would target children who "demonstrate academic delays prior to entering kindergarten," according to Superintendent April Domine.

"This is a pilot program of extended-day kindergarten for academically at-risk students," Domine told the school board March 21.

The board also approved a request for a state waiver to allow the district two more years before it implements the state-mandated "all-day, everyday" kindergarten.

House Bill 1 mandates districts provide all-day kindergarten beginning in state fiscal year 2011. But the state is allowing waivers for districts that "can demonstrate that implementing all-day, everyday kindergarten creates a hardship," according to the Ohio Department of Education.

On Feb. 28, the school board learned from Domine that the district does not have the eight classrooms needed for the all-day program in the K-1 building. The program also would require eight to 10 new kindergarten teachers, which could cost $640,000 to $800,000 annually, and more support staff, such as licensed support personnel, lunch aides, a custodian, bus drivers and food-service workers.

Domine said the intervention program is not a model for all-day kindergarten.

"This is focused on early math, early literacy, early intervention," she said.

According to information submitted to the board, the program would allow all kindergartners to attend the same half-day classes currently offered. Students identified for the program would then have recess with the first-graders and attend another half-day of learning with a teacher "trained in specific techniques to enhance early literacy development." Students would work with a reading specialist two days a week and their progress would be reported to the intervention team to ensure their needs are being met.

Board member Cheri Lehmann said she supports the idea.

"For the short term, if it will help students with readiness, I'm OK with it," she said.

Lehmann asked if there were a way to charge fees for the program, including a sliding fee schedule for those who might not be able to afford the program.

Domine said most districts do not charge for intervention programs but several are charging for all-day kindergarten classes. She said if the cost were around $200 to $300 per student, per month, the district could fund 50 to 60 percent of the program costs.

In her report to the board, Domine estimated the program would cost $57,500, including the salary of one new teacher and basic furniture and supplies.

Board president Mark Ryan said spending time with the children at this young age could prevent them from having trouble in later years.

"If we spend time now, will it save time later?" he said. "I think it makes sense."

Domine said if the program were implemented, the district would try to determine if it were beneficial and should be continued.

She then told the board if enrollment projections were incorrect or if the population requiring special assistance increased, the program might have to be delayed.