The Hermiston School District is cracking down on how old a child must be to enter kindergarten.
The School Board of Education discussed the kindergarten policy dubbed Age of Entrance and listed under code JEBA during its regular meeting on Monday. The policy dictates how old a student must be before he or she can enter kindergarten, as well as any special circumstances and exceptions. Although the policy has stated a student will be enrolled in kindergarten if the fifth birthday falls on or before Sept. 1, the district has consistently allowed exceptions to the rule on a case-by-case basis.
This year, the district is working through 12 appeals for early admission. The childrens birthdates range from Sept. 2 one day after the cutoff and into October, November and beyond.
What had been a handful of requests every year has evolved into a dozen, interim Superintendent Wade Smith said. We have had requests from parents (for early enrollment for children) with birthdays as late as December, January, February, six months after the deadline.
The Oregon Department of Education defines a kindergarten child as a child whose fifth birthday occurs on or before Sept. 1, but it also allows districts to admit a student whose needs for cognitive, social and physical development would be best met in the school program even though the child has not attained the minimum age requirement.
The new policy would only give parents the option to apply for an exception if the childs birthday is on or before Oct. 1, one month after the deadline. To be considered for early admission, the student must have had an analysis performed by a qualified professional to determine academic, social and emotional readiness for kindergarten, and the school district can monitor the child for up to nine weeks to verify readiness.
Smith said the one-month extension allows for a middle ground by offering some flexibility to parents without providing a hardship to the district.
If we continue to open our doors and become more and more flexible, our class sizes are going to grow, and that will have an impact on our students who are age eligible, he said.
The School Board will consider the early enrollment policy and its adoption at its next meeting.
In other business:
The board recognized Kathy Houk, p.e. teacher, and Carole Brudevold, ELL Assistant, both of Desert View Elementary, as this months You Make the Difference award winners.
The board unanimously accepted two school name and/or address changes: Hilltop Jr./Sr. High School, 290 W. Punkin Center Road, was renamed to the Innovative Learning Center and moved to 580 S. First St. and the address of Armand Larive Middle School was changed from 199 E. Ridgeway Ave. to 1479 S.W. Ninth St., which reflects the move from the current location to the new facility.
Jon Mishra, principal at Armand Larive Middle School, was named the districts new Director of Operations and Business Services. The move opens the position of ALMS principal, and the district is advertizing the position and accepting applications. Interviews are tentatively scheduled for May 25.
Smith notified the board that the underground fuel tank at the old Sunset Elementary School site has been located but has not yet been removed. Because the site does not show signs of water contamination, the remediation and removal costs should be much lower than those of the tank at West Park Elementary.
The board met in an executive session to discuss property transactions and student expulsion.