published Monday, June 13th, 2011

Rhea considering all-day kindergarten

DAYTON, Tenn.—Rhea County Schools should offer all-day kindergarten this coming academic year if the superintendent can develop an appropriate plan, school board members have decided.

Superintendent Jerry Levengood reported Thursday that 56 percent of parents surveyed recently indicated they prefer a full-day program, while 23 percent opted for the present half-day schedule.

“With the survey, it’s hard not to recommend a full-day schedule,” he said.

At the same time, however, Levengood warned that having kindergarteners riding buses in the afternoon could test the capacity of the transportation department.

“[Transportation supervisor Ronnie Holloway] and I have discussed this, and the problem is we don’t know where the students live,” he said. “I expect there will be an impact on transportation. There will be an impact as long as gas prices stay high.”

Board member Johnny Mincy offered the motion to proceed with planning the full-day schedule.

“If everything works out, we should consider it for all schools,” he said.

The board instructed Levengood to report to its July meeting with a plan and to report on the projected effect on Rhea Central Elementary School, which faces traffic and space challenges related to the change.

In other matters, board members agreed to consider a proposal to equip schools with new radios for resource officers and school personnel that would be compatible with the local law enforcement and emergency network. The cost of the system is estimated at $25,000, with state funds available to cover nearly $12,000.

Levengood pointed out that during the tornado emergency in April schools in Graysville and Spring City were delayed in receiving notifications because of inadequate equipment.

The proposed system also could help emergency responders in the Spring City area overcome existing radio coverage problems, according to Stephanie Bishop, a Motorola representative who presented the proposal to the board.

Levengood also said preliminary estimates indicate plans to build a high school and use the present high school building as a middle school will result in annual personnel costs of $575,000 to $600,000. The money would pay for cafeteria workers, custodians and administrators for the new buildings, he said.

about Tom Davis...

Tom is the director of public information at Bryan College and has been in the Dayton community for 30 years.

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